State vs. Benjamin Thompson

Retrial of man shot by officer continued until April

By Tanya Mitchell | Jan 25, 2013
Photo by: Tanya Mitchell Benjamin Thompson of Belfast, at left, seated next to his defense attorney Steven C. Peterson during his trail at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast last October.

Belfast — The retrial of a Belfast man accused of threatening a Belfast police officer with a firearm during a traffic stop in June 2011 is tentatively scheduled for the April docket.

Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker said the retrial of 28-year-old Benjamin Thompson of Belfast on a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon will be continued from the February term because Thompson's defense attorney, Steven C. Peterson, has requested the full transcripts of Thompson's October trial.

At that time jurors returned guilty verdicts on three of the five charges Thompson faced — keeping a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, operating under the influence (with one prior conviction) and failure to stop for a police officer. Jurors additionally found Thompson not guilty of threatening display of a weapon, but told Justice Robert Murray they were deadlocked after four hours of deliberation on the criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon charge.

Walker said Wednesday, Jan. 23, that he would not object to Peterson's request to continue because it is doubtful the trial transcripts would have been ready within the coming weeks.

According to a court clerk at Fifth District Court in Belfast, Thompson's next court appearance will be Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast.

Court documents state that Thompson initially caught the attention of law enforcement when Searsport Police Officer Eric Marcel attempted to stop his vehicle for a loud exhaust on Brock Road.

When Thompson arrived at the intersection of Route 141 and Smart Road in Belfast, Belfast Police Officer Dan Fitzpatrick executed the traffic stop. Thompson then reportedly stepped out of the vehicle and brandished a shotgun. Fitzpatrick, according to court records, ordered Thompson to drop the weapon. When Thompson did not comply, Fitzpatrick shot him.

Thompson, a veteran of the Iraq war, was arrested at a relative's home in Searsmont on June 29, 2011, after he was released from the Maine VA Medical Center in Augusta, where he was treated for his wounds. Thompson has since been free on $5,000 cash bail, and he has remained free on post-conviction bail since the conclusion of the trial.

Thompson's military service was a key element of his defense throughout the three-day trial. During the trial, Thompson's defense attorney, Steven C. Peterson, argued that Thompson's actions on the night of the incident were directly linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition Peterson and several of the defense's expert witnesses contended Thompson suffers from as a result of two tours he completed in Iraq.

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