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December 13, 2013

AG Settles Lawsuit from State Police Taser Death


The Attorney General's Office has paid $30,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the companion of an unarmed Thetford man who died after a state trooper shot him with a Taser stun gun in 2012.

The settlement, finalized in Orange Superior Court in Chelsea, eliminates the possibility of a trial over claims filed by Theresa Davidonis, who watched her mentally ill boyfriend, Macadam Mason, die after he was shot by a trooper who had been summoned to their house to help.

“The money reflects responsibility on the part of the state police for what they did,” Davidonis' attorney, Tom Costello of Brattleboro, said. “It was not for the death of Macadam, but for the emotional distress that Theresa endured; $30,000 is an amount that’s substantial and reflects a fair resolution in the case, particularly in light of the risk of taking it to a verdict.” 

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December 09, 2013

Four Intoxicated Women Land in ER While "Pregaming" for UVM Sorority Event

602568_537445739660873_1306012350_n’Tis the season for raising holiday spirits, but evidently, a few University of Vermont students raised them a bit too often this weekend — even before the party officially started.

The Vermont State Police reported that at about 7:30 Saturday night, three female UVM students headed to a sorority function at the Old Lantern in Charlotte had to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington due to overintoxication. According to police, the women, who were all headed to the winter formal sponsored by UVM's Delta Delta Delta sorority chapter, arrived by bus and hadn't even entered the party before they got sick. 

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November 22, 2013

Records Show Burlington Cops Used Little Force Prior to Shooting

The two Burlington police officers involved in the shooting death of a mentally ill man wielding a shovel earlier this month had not fired or even pointed a weapon at a suspect in the years before the shooting, according to department records.

Officers Ethan Thibault and Brent Navari used force in the line of duty a combined 14 times since 2010, according to Burlington Police Department records. The officers' use of force reports were obtained by Seven Days under a public records request submitted to the police department. 

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November 20, 2013

This Week's Issue: Union Drives, Big-Money Developers and a Long Time in the Clink

112013-coverAnother week, another Wednesday, another Seven Days. Here's this week's lineup of news and politics stories:

Pick up this issue in print, online or on the iOS app.

November 13, 2013

Lawmakers Review Inmate Suicide Inquiry

An inmate who committed suicide inside a Newport prison in August was not subjected to adequate medical monitoring after he was prescribed an anti-depressant that can prompt extreme emotional swings, the Vermont Defender General's Office concluded in an investigation released yesterday.

Robert Mossey, a 38-year-old Burlington man who hung himself in the Northern State Correctional Facility on Aug. 30, was placed on medication while an inmate, but was not subjected to the strict follow-up reviews received by patients who aren't incarcerated, Defender General Matt Valerio told lawmakers yesterday.

"Some of those medications can make you suicidal, instead of stopping you," Valerio said. "There's no indication from the records that (appropriate monitoring) occurred."

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November 12, 2013

Vermont Gun-Safety Advocates Focus on State's Suicide Rate

Gun sense 001

Vermont's high rate of suicide with firearms was the dominant theme of a well-attended and well-mannered forum held Monday night in Burlington City Hall.

Organized by advocates of gun-safety measures in a state with few firearms regulations, the event took place 50 yards from the site of a fatal shooting almost exactly two years ago. Josh Pfenning, 35, died on November 10, 2011, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while camped in City Hall Park during the Occupy Burlington protests.

The way in which Pfenning died is not unusual in Vermont. With the exception of Pennsylvania, Vermont has the Northeast's highest per-capita rate of gun-related deaths, most of which take the form of suicide, said Eliot Nelson, a pediatrician at Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Vermonters are far more likely to kill themselves than one another, noted Sean Ackerman, a Fletcher Allen resident in child psychiatry. The state suicide rate stands at 16 deaths per 100,000 residents and the homicide rate is 1.6 per 100,000, he said, adding that more than half of suicides are carried out with firearms.

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November 07, 2013

Burlington Police Fatally Shoot Shovel-Wielding Man

IMG_2431A Burlington police officer fatally shot a 49-year-old man in the New North End yesterday evening after his mother called police to report that he had been acting irrationally, authorities said.

Wayne Brunette, a longtime Burlington resident, was killed two minutes after two police officers arrived at the home he shared with his parents on Randy Lane, in a quiet neighborhood tucked behind the Lyman Hunt Middle School, police said.

Brunette approached the officers in a “threatening manner,” while holding a “long-handled pointed spade shovel," Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall said at a late morning press conference inside the Burlington police station.

Corporal Ethan Thibault, a 12-year-veteran, fired his .40 caliber Glock, killing Brunette. It was the first time Burlington police have fired their weapons at someone since 1997.

Corporal Brent Navari, a 10-year-veteran, did not fire. Neither officer was injured. Brunette was pronounced dead at the Fletcher Allen Health Care emergency department.

Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling (pictured) said that, while the investigation is in its infancy, authorities currently believe Thibault followed the applicable rules and laws in firing at Brunette.

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November 01, 2013

Shelburne Police Receive National Distinction, One Driver's Beef Not Withstanding


Might the Shelburne Police Department be one of the finest five-0s in the land? The results are in for the 2013 National Law Enforcement Challenge (NLEC), and Shelburne's force finds itself near the top of the pack. In the category of municipal law enforcement agencies with 11-25 officers, the department is ranked second nationally for the quality of its highway safety initiatives.

According to a press release by the Vermont Department of Public Safety about the national award:

Chief Warden and Sgt. Al Fortin along with the entire uniform and civilian staff have worked tirelessly to develop a strong relationship with the Shelburne community including local students and parents. In addition, the Shelburne Police Department has coordinated special high visibility enforcement campaigns with all of the law enforcement agencies in Chittenden County and elsewhere. These efforts have helped to make the roadways in Chittenden County some of the safest in the state.

One driver might disagree. Rod MacIver, a Monkton artist (pictured above) who has been waging a legal battle with the Shelburne police department since last December, would be hard-pressed to describe his relationship with the force as strong.

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October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Cover103013While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

October 29, 2013

Green Mountain Police State? Vermont's Spy Guy to Speak at ACLU Event

F-journalists-arkinSouth Pomfret resident Bill Arkin isn't shocked by recent revelations about the worldwide and domestic spying operations of U.S. intelligence agencies.

That's because he and colleague Dana Priest reported extensively on privacy invasions by U.S. espionage agencies in an investigative series, "Top Secret America," published in the Washington Post more than three years ago.

Arkin and Priest showed how the national-security state had expanded exponentially in the years following the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. They reported, for example, that more than 3000 government organizations and private companies are engaged in "homeland security" activities in 10,000 locations around the United States, six of them in Vermont.

Arkin will update and analyze his findings as they relate to Vermonters and millions of other Americans at a conference on Wednesday in Montpelier. He's the featured speaker at the free, day-long event in the Pavilion Auditorium sponsored by the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Arkin's talk will focus on "the big national picture and how Vermont fits into it," he said in a telephone interview on Monday. He'll also be touting his newly published book, American Coup: How a Terrified Government Is Destroying the Constitution.

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