Christian MilNeil, right, and attorney Tina Nadeau speak to reporters at Nadeau's office on Wednesday. Credit: Caitlin Andrews / Maine Public

A misdemeanor vandalism case against a Portland journalist who had said he was targeted after criticizing the police during a wave of Black Lives Matter protests nearly three years ago has been dismissed by the Cumberland County district attorney’s office.

The case drew widespread attention when Christian MilNeil, the editor of Boston-based StreetsBlog MASS, tweeted on June 9, 2020, that Portland police had appeared at his home to press charges against him for reasons he suspected were related to a series of critical tweets. Police served him a summons for criminal mischief for allegedly defacing a city building with graffiti.

MilNeil has denied the charges for the past three years.

Portland police claimed that MilNeil was caught on camera defacing an Avesta Housing-managed property. MilNeil’s defense attorney, Tina Nadeau of Portland, told reporters on Wednesday that investigators misidentified MilNeil from poor quality photos. The man on MilNiel’s social media that police thought was MilNeil turned out to be a friend instead, the attorney said.

The district attorney’s office and Portland police declined Thursday to comment on the dismissal. The dismissal form, released to the media by Nadeau at a Wednesday press conference, said the charge was dismissed at the request of Lt. Nick Goodman, the officer MilNeil criticized in his tweets.

“Just a reminder: (then) Sgt. Nicholas Goodman, the #PortlandME cop who shot and killed Chance David Baker for carrying a BB gun in 2018, ALSO escalated a traffic stop and shot and killed another victim in May 2008,” MilNeil’s tweet reads.

The Maine attorney general’s office, tasked with investigating every instance of deadly force by police officers, called both shootings justified, as it has all shootings the office has investigated.

MilNeil’s case was set to go to trial last week when it was dismissed, according to court documents.

Nadeau on Wednesday said that in light of the state’s three-year criminal court backlog, the case was a waste of resources.

MilNeil’s case was one of 3,671 misdemeanor cases pending in Cumberland County as of April 21, according to court statistics shared with defense attorneys. There were 2,456 misdemeanor cases pending as of the same date in 2019, prior to the pandemic. There were 1,299 felony cases pending in Maine’s most populous county as of the same date, up from 824 pre-pandemic.

Nadeau said MilNeil’s case had “lingered because the DA’s office refused to, until the final hour, do the right thing, which was dismiss it.”

Additional reporting by Caitlin Andrews from Maine Public.