Oxford Police Chief: Officer Tried to De-escalate Pursuit Before Fatal Crash
Officials from the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office have refused to provide documentation of the department's policy on police chases following the fatal high-speed crash of Nicholas Liebowitz in Gray, Maine, on Friday, April 28, 2023. Chief Rickie Jack of the Oxford Police has provided details of the incident, stating that Liebowitz's erratic driving resulted in a 47-second chase by a police officer that was then terminated for the safety of others on the road when it became clear Liebowitz would not pull over. Subsequently, Liebowitz would hit two other vehicles and ultimately drive his vehicle into a telephone pole, sending it airborne and rolling over multiple times. Liebowitz did not survive the crash.
Following the incident, officials have been slow to make public further details regarding the chase and ensuing investigation, including information about the suspect's physical state and any internal policies that may have dictated how the chase was conducted and why it was called off, citing state public records laws that allow police to deny disclosure of investigative techniques or security plans that may endanger law enforcement operatives or members of the community.
Sigmund D. Schutz, an attorney who represents the Press Herald in First Amendment matters, said those were not valid justifications for not sharing at least part of the department’s policies. “These policies appear to be made public fairly regularly in other states … and it doesn’t appear that is causing any harm,” he said. "If you’re going to have fairly generic broad policies like this that are not tailored to any specific investigation (and) you’re going to have these things off limits, it creates a desert in terms of accountability.”