ELLSWORTH — Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has concluded that a Bangor police officer acted in defense of himself and others when he fatally shot an Ellsworth man in December 2015.
Joshua Jozefowicz, 23, was shot and killed by Officer Ryan Jones in a wooded area off Outer Hammond Street in Bangor the night of Dec 1, 2015.
Officer Jones went to the area in response to a report that a vehicle stolen in Carmel days earlier had been spotted in a convenience store parking lot.
Upon arrival, Officer Jones located the stolen vehicle and, as he approached it on foot, saw a man and woman inside. Jones spoke with the driver, who was later identified as Jozefowicz. While initially claiming that he had permission to use the vehicle, Jozefowicz became evasive as the conversation continued.
After being asked to accompany the officer to his cruiser, Jozefowicz later fled on foot into an adjacent field.
Jones ran after the suspect. As they neared a wooded area, Jozefowicz put a hand in his jacket pocket. Jones drew his firearm, and ordered Jozefowicz to show his hands. In response, Jozefowicz shot at Officer Jones with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
Officer Jones returned fire. Jozefowicz was struck and fell to the ground. Emergency medical personnel were on the scene within minutes and determined that Jozefowicz was dead.
Later investigation determined that Jozefowicz fired a single round. Officer Jones discharged 13 rounds, six of which struck Jozefowicz.
“At the time Officer Jones shot Mr. Jozefowicz, he reasonably believed that unlawful deadly force was being used against him, and that it was reasonable for him to believe it necessary to use deadly force to protect himself and any other persons, including responding back-up officers, within range of Mr. Jozefowicz and his firearm,” according to a report from Attorney General Janet Mills’ office.
The attorney general’s conclusions are based on interviews with numerous individuals, an extensive forensic investigation, and a review of all available evidence.
In addition to the pistol, Jozefowicz was found to be in possession of two small boxes containing crack cocaine. At the time of his death, he had several substances in his system, including morphine, cocaine, fentanyl, monoacetylmorphine and diltiazem (used for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina but also sometimes mixed with heroin).
Jozefowicz was a convicted felon as a result of drug possession convictions in 2013. As such, he was prohibited from possessing a firearm. There also was a warrant for his arrest out of Hancock County.
The woman in the vehicle with Jozefowicz that night was arrested at the store near the scene of the shooting shortly after the incident, according to news reports at the time. Kayla Massicotte, 25, of Carmel, a 2010 graduate of Mount Desert Island High School who has lived in Bar Harbor, was charged with possession of heroin and possession of a Schedule Z drug.
The attorney general has exclusive responsibility for the direction and control of any criminal investigation of a law enforcement officer who, while acting in the performance of the officer’s duties, uses deadly force.
In order for any person, including a law enforcement officer, to legally use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of a third party, two requirements must be met. First, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is imminently threatened against the person or against someone else; and, second, the person must actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that imminent threat.
Further, whether the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is reasonable must be based on the totality of the particular circumstances and must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time.