Man shot by Belfast officer arrested in Searsmont

Benjamin Thompson released on $5,000 cash bail
By Tanya Mitchell | Jun 30, 2011
Courtesy of: Belfast Police Department Benjamin L. Thompson

Searsmont — The man who was shot by a Belfast police officer on the night of June 8 after he allegedly stepped out of a vehicle with a shotgun in his hands during a traffic stop was arrested Wednesday night, June 29 in Searsmont.

Benjamin L. Thompson, 27, was arrested on warrants at a residence in Searsmont Wednesday night, according to records at the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. He had been living in Swanville at the time of the alleged incident, but is now residing with a relative in Searsmont, according to Belfast Detective Sgt. Bryan Cunningham.

Benjamin Thompson is charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, threatening display of a weapon, keeping a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, operating under the influence (with one prior conviction) and failure to stop for a police officer.

Deputies Dan Thompson and Arthur Smith and Sgt. James Greeley of the Sheriff's Office made the arrest with the assistance of Maine State Police Trooper Shawn Porter and his K9 Tex, according to information included in Benjamin Thompson’s arrest warrant.

Benjamin Thompson, according to Belfast Police Chief Jeff Trafton, had most recently been at the Maine VA Medical Center in Augusta (formerly known as Togus VA Medical Center). He had been transferred to the Augusta facility from Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was initially taken following the June 8 incident and had been undergoing treatment for his injuries.

Trafton confirmed that Benjamin Thompson is a veteran who served in Iraq as a member of the United States Marine Corps. It was not immediately clear, following his arrest, when he had been released from the VA facility.

Cunningham said as of early Thursday afternoon, June 30, Benjamin Thompson had been released from the Waldo County Jail on $5,000 cash bail.

The Belfast police officer who reportedly shot Benjamin Thompson, Dan Fitzpatrick, will be back on the job this coming weekend. That is according to Trafton, who said earlier this week that Fitzpatrick will return to work Saturday, July 2.

Fitzpatrick was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, which is reportedly standard policy in an officer-involved shooting.

Trafton said any shooting that involves a police officer is considered on a case-by-case basis, and an officer can typically return to work prior to the completion of an investigation by the Attorney General's office, so long as they have the approval of superior officers.

The only time an officer may be kept off duty for the entire duration of the AG’s investigation, Trafton said, is if there are any doubts on the part of superior officers about the appropriateness of the officer’s actions. Trafton said he believes Fitzpatrick acted appropriately, given the situation that the officer reportedly faced at the time of the shooting.

Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the AG's office, said previously that there was no way to know how long its investigation into the shooting might take.

According to a press release from the Belfast Police Department that was issued following the shooting incident, Belfast units were attempting to stop a Jeep that had previously refused to stop for a Searsport Police officer late on the night of June 8.

The vehicle stopped at the intersection of Route 141 and Smart Road shortly before midnight, according to the press release, and Benjamin Thompson allegedly stepped out of the vehicle with a shotgun.

"[Benjamin Thompson] was ordered to put the weapon down," the press release stated. "The interaction resulted in [Benjamin Thompson] being shot by Officer Dan Fitzpatrick of the Belfast Police Department."

Benjamin Thompson is scheduled to appear at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast Thursday, July 28.

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