April 06, 2020

Man: Bangor officer slashed tires

BANGOR – A Bangor man who led police on a high-speed chase in 2005 now finds himself in an unexpected role as the Bangor Police Department continues a criminal investigation into one of its own.

Michael Cromwell, 39, came forward Monday and identified himself as the man who was the subject of alleged retribution in April 2005 by Joshua Ouellette, the Bangor police officer whose statements during an interview with another law enforcement agency prompted an internal then criminal investigation.

“I feel like I need to bring this up,” Cromwell said by telephone Monday.

The alleged crimes, which Police Chief Don Winslow has only described as two Class E misdemeanor property crimes, have embroiled a second officer, Brad Hanson, who resigned on Oct. 20, one month to the day after Ouellette resigned.

Winslow has said his department will hold a thorough investigation into a matter that he said has disgusted and rocked the civilians and sworn law enforcement officers in the department.

Sources familiar with the incidents have said that Ouellette is under investigation for slashing four tires and stealing hubcaps in separate incidents more than a year ago.

The criminal investigation, which initially was expected to be concluded late last week, or early this week, continues, with Deputy Police Chief Peter Arno saying Monday that the department wants to be as complete as it can before it is forwarded to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.

“We’re going to take all the time that it takes to complete the investigation,” Arno said Monday.

Winslow has declined to say what led to Hanson, a Bangor police officer for five years, being placed on administrative leave on Oct. 11 except that it came as a result of the investigation into Ouellette.

Cromwell said he brought up the issue of the tire slashings in April 2005, after it occurred, but no one would listen. Now he has been interviewed as part of the criminal investigation.

Cromwell said that it was his estranged wife whose car tires had been slashed although he said he had been the intended subject after he led Bangor police on a high-speed chase on April 17, 2005. The police called off the chase as it entered residential areas in the city, he said.

While giving up the high-speed chase, Bangor police weren’t giving up the case and with Cromwell’s license plate and other information, tried to track him down the night of the incident.

Several officers went to Cromwell’s house on Division Street, Cromwell said Monday, but the man had gone to his sister’s house on Ohio Street.

At his house, police found his estranged wife’s silver Nissan Sentra, whose license plate was one digit different than the white Hyundai Elantra that he had been driving, he said.

The next morning, Cromwell said his wife found that her car’s tires had been slashed, although she hadn’t seen who had done it.

Winslow has said that it wasn’t clear whether Ouellette was on duty or not at the time of the alleged incidents.

Suspecting the police, Cromwell said he could do little. Later his girlfriend told him of how the police had confronted her and told her that they knew that Cromwell had switched license plates and that, “We took care of that.”

Winslow, when contacted Monday about what Cromwell said, would not comment citing the ongoing investigation.

“I am not at liberty to talk about the criminal investigation,” Winslow said.

Cromwell said he’s already admitted to the culpability in the high-speed chase, having completed a six-month sentence on Sept. 5 for eluding a police officer.

“I’m not saying that I’m an angel,” said Cromwell who was also convicted at the same time for drunken driving and theft of services for not paying his bar bill at Barnaby’s. Those violations prompted the Bangor man to flee police in the first place, he said.

Cromwell entered an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program from July 2005 to March 2006 and had turned himself around, he said. Then he slipped.

In early March 2006, days after he agreed to a plea bargain to serve four months for the eluding charge, Cromwell was arrested for drunken driving in Damariscotta, where he worked as a traveling nurse.

The agreement, which would have allowed him to delay the start of his sentence until August 2006 after his job contract ended, was off the table, he said.

The Bangor man said that he has been held accountable and that he wants all those involved held accountable as well, including police.

“It has left a very bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “I’m very frustrated.”

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