Commission investigating Lewiston tragedy held their first meeting in Augusta

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 9:31 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - In wake of the shootings in Lewiston, Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron Frey announced the establishment of an independent commission to investigate what happened -- including the months before the shootings and how police respond to them.

The members discussed the commission’s staffing and their path forward for their work to determine the facts.

Commission Chairman, Dan Wathen said, “Simply put, I believe that the first step will be to collect and examine the documents and reports that are already in existence, including the reports of media, which have been extensive and helpful, I suspect. Would hope that we could discuss and identify those suggested areas of further investigation at our next meeting. There are a myriad of issues here and we ought to determine what are the ones that we think require further investigation and sort of what is the priority of which are the ones that we should start working on first.”

After evaluation of any presented documents, testimony, or other materials, the commission may find that further investigation is necessary.

“At this early stage, neither I or anyone else can foresee the legal claims for confidentiality or silence that we are staff may encounter. Nor can we foresee whether everyone we approach will willingly cooperate, and coming before a public forum,” said Wathen.

Especially, since they will want to review military, medial, and psychiatric records.

So, the commission voted to request subpoena power.

The floor was then opened to public comment, where folks representing Maine political offices, mental health organization representatives, and members of the general public shared their thoughts.

Clinton resident, Scott Berry said, “The hurt and sorrow persists, and tears continue to flow, reflecting collective pain that has gripped an entire state. This anguish is not something that will simply fade away.”

The commission has been assigned laptops and cell phones for the purpose of this investigation.

They’re planning their next session for December to review the first round of materials.

“I owe a big part of my life’s work to the people of Maine. And on this sad and solemn occasion. I ask all Mainers including law enforcement personnel and members of the legislature for their support, their understanding, their cooperation and their encouragement,” said Wathen.