The Lewiston Police Department said Monday it is investigating an encounter between one of its officers and a 30-year-old Lewiston resident last week that was recorded and has since taken off on social media.
The incident occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m. on April 18 and was captured in a video taken by Kon Maiwan, who was later arrested and charged. The video appears to begin after the initial contact between Maiwan and the police officer, who the department identified as Parker Simoneau.
“Like Parker, like what’s wrong with you, bro? Don’t — don’t make people nervous, bro, driving around,” Maiwan tells Simoneau as Maiwan approaches him. Maiwan later tells the officer that he has been following him “since I came home.”
Simoneau responded by saying something about disorderly conduct, though his exact words are unclear. Someone off camera tells Maiwan that he’s “jumping to conclusions.”
When Maiwan starts to walk away a few seconds later, Simoneau follows him. Maiwan tells him “you don’t have to worry about me … you have no reason to be following me.”
As Maiwan and Simoneau pick up their pace, Maiwan yells “bro, stop!” and starts running.
The department said that Maiwan was charged with disorderly conduct, refusing to submit to arrest or detention and failure to provide a correct name. He was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn and released on bail.
“We are currently investigating Mr. Maiwan’s complaint to determine through objective and thorough investigation of all the facts whether or not the conduct of Officer Simoneau violated any constitutional, state, federal law or policies of the Lewiston Police Department,” the statement said.
“To ensure a fair and equitable process, the Lewiston Police Department will be forwarding its completed investigative report to the Attorney General’s Office for review.”
The statement said that because the encounter involves an “open criminal investigation,” the department will not be releasing any further information. It acknowledged that a “partial video clip” has circulated on social media, and although it “may appear disturbing, it is not fully inclusive of all facts and circumstances of the interaction leading up to the arrest.”
In its statement, the police department said Simoneau was accompanied by a counselor with Project Support You, a program that reaches out to people with substance misuse and mental health problems. The police statement contends that Maiwan had been “interfering with their outreach efforts.”
Maiwan did not respond to multiple attempts to contact him.
In a message posted to the Facebook group Lewiston Rocks on April 20, Maiwan said he “had posted some videos, but after some reflection, I realized that they could potentially cause harm.”
“We are taking this matter seriously,” Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline said in an email. “The police chief and I have spoken and they are currently conducting a thorough investigation. I urge everyone to be patient with this process.”
The video of the encounter has taken off on social media. On April 21, Michael McWhorter, who goes by “TizzyEnt” on social media, posted a 3-minute video along with his commentary to his Instagram, Twitter and TikTok accounts.
According to his LinkedIn page, McWhorter is a writer and director based in south Florida. His social media accounts are filled with videos like the one involving Maiwan, in which McWhorter takes clips of other people’s videos or new stories and interjects his commentary.
In the two days since McWhorter posted the video, it garnered tens of thousands of views across the platforms and was reposted to Reddit, where it gained more views.
Across platforms, users expressed their shock at the incident and encouraged people to call or email the Lewiston Police Department. Some users posted Police Chief David St. Pierre’s email address. Others said they tried calling the department but were unable to leave a message because the voicemail was full.
A GoFundMe set up by Project Relief, a Portland-based “racial justice/mutual aid group” has raised more than $16,000 from more than 550 donations in three days. The fundraiser has a goal of raising $20,000 for Maiwan’s legal and transportation costs. The group did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
According to the group’s Instagram, Maiwan is a Morehouse College graduate and an “educator.” Previously, he worked as an economic and development assistant for the city of Lewiston.
This story was originally published by The Maine Monitor, a nonprofit and nonpartisan news organization. To get regular coverage from the Monitor, sign up for a free Monitor newsletter here.