Commission Concludes Law Enforcement Had Grounds for Assault Charges in Maine Mass Shooting Case

The independent commission appointed by Governor Janet Mills to investigate the deadliest mass shooting in Maine has concluded that law enforcement had sufficient grounds to pursue assault charges against Robert Card, the perpetrator of the shooting. The commission’s report, released recently, focused on the state’s “yellow flag” law, which allows temporary removal of firearms during a psychiatric health crisis.

The commission’s findings revealed that Card had punched a fellow Army reservist in the face six weeks before the shooting, providing ample grounds for assault charges. Legal experts and the victim of the assault agree that pursuing charges may not have prevented the tragic event. However, the commission criticized the Sagadahoc County sheriff’s office, particularly Sgt. Aaron Skolfield, for not taking appropriate action under the “yellow flag” law.

The report also highlighted another missed opportunity when Card’s best friend, Sean Hodgson, reported an incident where Card displayed concerning behavior, including assaulting Hodgson. Hodgson believed that Card was capable of committing a mass shooting and reported the incident to his U.S. Army Reserve supervisors. However, Skolfield failed to follow up on the report, despite having received a memo from Hodgson’s commanding officer.

The commission concluded that law enforcement had more than enough information to pursue assault charges against Card, which could have led to his arrest and the imposition of bail conditions prohibiting firearm possession. The report criticized the misconception among some law enforcement officers, including Skolfield, that victims need to press charges for a case to be brought to the prosecutor’s office.

Card, who was found dead by suicide after a two-day search following the shooting, was already known to law enforcement, and concerns about his behavior had been raised by his family and fellow service members. While Hodgson agrees that assault charges could have been filed, he is uncertain if it would have prevented the attack, as he wanted Card to receive help rather than face legal consequences.

Legal experts, such as Jim Burke and Orlando Delogu, acknowledge that law enforcement and military officials did not take all necessary actions, including pursuing criminal charges and conducting a thorough investigation. However, they also highlight the challenges in arresting someone for simple assault without a warrant or sufficient evidence.

The commission’s report sheds light on the need for improved cooperation between different law enforcement agencies and the military, as crucial information about Card was not shared among them. The report emphasizes the importance of law enforcement officers following through with investigations to enable prosecutors to take appropriate action.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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