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Stunning News: Officers under investigation in Maine

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Maine Attorney General’s Office reviewing bachelor party video case

By Leanne M. Robicheau and Holly S. Anderson
VillageSoup/Knox County Times

(April 11): The Maine Attorney General’s Office is reviewing a case involving a video that shows a former Knox County sheriff’s deputy being shot with an electroshock weapon at his bachelor party last summer, among other hazing-like activities.

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Of the approximately 10 men seen in the six-minute video clip given to VillageSoup, many are Knox County sheriff’s deputies.

On Friday, David Loughran, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said that Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison had referred the case to that office “to see if anything criminal has taken place.” Loughran said he had viewed the video at VillageSoup.com. Beyond that, Loughran said he could not comment.

“I want to get it taken care of as soon as possible,” Dennison said Friday, noting the Attorney General’s Office had not determined which agency would investigate the case.

The video shows a hazing, involving drinking, where the groom-to-be is shot with an electroshock weapon, commonly known as a Taser, handcuffed, hog-tied with duct tape, oiled and feathered, and paraded through downtown Camden strapped to a lawn chair on the back of a flatbed truck.

According to a Maine law enacted by the Legislature in 2005, using an electronic weapon on anyone is a Class D crime, which is a misdemeanor, unless its use is by a law enforcement officer in an official capacity or in official training. A person may use a Taser to defend themselves or a third person or in defending their dwelling place, according to Maine law. The penalty for a Class D crime is up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

The groom-to-be, who was a sheriff’s deputy at the time of the party, is now a Maine State Police trooper.

On Friday, state police Maj. Dale P. Lancaster said that the trooper who, as a Knox County deputy, was involved in the bachelor party video currently remains on working status with the agency.

“Our understanding is that this is a Knox County investigation and if during their investigation they uncover improprieties, we will revisit the issue,” said Lancaster.

As of Friday, none of the sheriff’s deputies involved in the case had been placed on administrative leave, according to Dennison.

In recent years there has been controversy over the use of Tasers and concerns have been raised about the potential for abuse of the weapons, and injuries and deaths from Taser use.

“Tasers are hand-held weapons that deliver a jolt of electricity through a pair of wires propelled by compressed air from up to 10.6 meters away,” according to NBC News’ website. “The jolt stuns the target by causing an uncontrollable contraction of the muscle tissue. The target is immobilized and falls to the ground — regardless of pain tolerance or mental focus.”

“According to Amnesty International at least 280 people have died in the United States in connection with Tasers since July 2001,” according to the NBC News website.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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