Refusal to give up gun sends Thompson case back to Superior Court

Man shot by officer set for October trial
By Tanya Mitchell | Oct 17, 2012
Source: File image Benjamin Thompson

Belfast — A United States Marine Corps veteran from Belfast who allegedly brandished a gun during a June 2011 traffic stop and was shot by a police officer will not have his case heard in veterans' court because he refused to give up his right to own a firearm.

Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker confirmed that the criminal trial for 28-year-old Benjamin Thompson is scheduled to begin Monday, Oct. 29, at Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast. Walker said that when Thompson's case was being considered for veterans' court last month, the defense and the state were unable to agree on whether Thompson should be allowed to own a firearm.

"I insisted on a felony conviction [so] he can never possess a firearm again," Walker said in an e-mail to The Republican Journal Monday morning, Oct. 15. Walker said that since Thompson would not agree to that condition, his case was moved back onto the Waldo County criminal docket for this month.

Walker said he expected the jury trial would span about two days.

Last month, Thompson's defense attorney, Steven C. Peterson of Rockport, said his client's case was being considered for veterans' court, which he described as a fairly new program in Maine. Peterson said the state has recently begun offering veterans' court as an alternative to a typical criminal trial for military veterans who have returned home with conditions like post traumatic stress disorder and are facing criminal charges of some kind.

As of 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, Oct. 15, Peterson had yet to return a call seeking comment on the pending criminal case.

Thompson is facing charges of 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 following a series of events that began on the night of June 8, 2011.

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 allegedly stepped out of the vehicle and brandished a shotgun. Fitzpatrick reportedly ordered Thompson to drop the weapon, and when Thompson did not comply, Fitzpatrick shot him.

Thompson was arrested at a relative's home in Searsmont on June 29, 2011, after he was released from Maine VA Medical Center in Augusta, where he was treated for his wounds. He has since been free on $5,000 cash bail.

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