Law Enforcement

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley to Retire

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 7:00 PM

John Dooley with his wife Sandy Dooley. - SEVEN DAYS ARCHIVE
  • Seven Days archive
  • John Dooley with his wife Sandy Dooley.
Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley, the court's longest tenured member and a staunch liberal voice, is retiring, WCAX-TV reported Thursday.

Dooley, a 72-year-old New Hampshire native who attended Boston College Law School, was appointed to the bench in 1987 by former governor Madeleine Kunin. He had previously served as her secretary of administration.

Dooley, a South Burlington resident, told the news station he'll step down when his term ends in March.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Transparency Group: Cops Should Release Winooski Shooting Video

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 1:55 PM

The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw.
A group that calls for government transparency is urging Vermont law enforcement to release videos that show a sheriff's deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man in Winooski last week.

The New England First Amendment Coalition wants officials to release body camera videos of the incident so the public can evaluate Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Nicolas Palmier's decision to open fire on Jesse Beshaw, 29, after a brief foot chase Friday evening in downtown Winooski.

Beshaw, the subject of an arrest warrant for burglary and unlawful mischief, approached Palmier with his right hand behind his back and did not respond to Palmier's verbal commands, Vermont State Police said. He was shot seven times and died at the scene.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Unarmed Winooski Man Shot Seven Times in Deadly Police Shooting

Posted By on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 4:19 PM

The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The location behind the O’Brien Community Center where police shot and killed 29-year-old Jesse Beshaw.
Updated at 7:52 p.m. with additional information from the Vermont State Police.

A Winooski man was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy Friday afternoon, Vermont State Police said Saturday night.

After a brief foot chase through the Malletts Bay Avenue neighborhood in Winooski, Jesse Beshaw, 29, approached Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicolas Palmier with his right hand behind his back, state police said.

Beshaw did not respond to Palmier’s verbal commands and Palmier opened fire as Beshaw continued to advance, state police said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that Beshaw suffered six gunshot wounds and one “apparent grazing” gunshot wound to his head and torso, state police said.

Winooski police officers arrived soon after the shooting and administered aid, but Beshaw died at the scene. Palmier was wearing a body camera that captured the shooting, state police said.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Donovan, Bucknam Face Off at First Attorney General Debate

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2016 at 6:21 PM

Deborah Bucknam and T.J. Donovan in the first debate in the race for Vermont Attorney General - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Deborah Bucknam and T.J. Donovan in the first debate in the race for Vermont Attorney General
The two major party candidates vying to be Vermont's next attorney general squared off over sending prisoners out of state when they met in Montpelier Thursday for their first debate.

Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, a Democrat, and St. Johnsbury attorney Deborah Bucknam, a Republican, took part in an hour-long debate sponsored by the Vermont Bar Association in the Pavilion Building. They are vying to replace longtime Attorney General Bill Sorrell, who is not seeking reelection.

In front of about 50 onlookers, many of them lawyers, the candidates often engaged in cordial exchanges and found little to disagree about.

Their sharpest difference emerged when they were asked about Vermont's reliance on sending prisoners out of state. The Department of Corrections has more inmates than prison cells, and has for years contracted with private companies to house the overflow inmates elsewhere. Currently, approximately 200 Vermont inmates are being held in a Michigan prison run by the GEO Group.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Seven Questions for Nekima Levy-Pounds

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 8:50 PM

Nekima Levy-Pounds - COURTESY: NEKIMA LEVY-POUNDS
  • Courtesy: Nekima Levy-Pounds
  • Nekima Levy-Pounds
Nekima Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney, president of the Minneapolis NAACP and adviser to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, has emerged as one of the leading national voices in the ongoing debate about police and race relations.

She will speak at Saint Michael’s College on Wednesday, September 7, at 7 p.m. at the McCarthy Arts Center. Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo is scheduled to speak after her.

In advance of her talk, Levy-Pounds spoke with Seven Days about modern policing and racial tensions. The conversation was edited for clarity and brevity.

SEVEN DAYS: In the two years since Ferguson, how far has the conversation about police relations and minorities advanced?
NEKIMA LEVY-POUNDS: Some people are stuck at the conversation level, the shock and awe of seeing unarmed people killed on video by police, but we have to begin to take the conversation to the next level if widespread change will occur. I would like to see a jurisdictional overhaul of policing. We can all agree we want police to protect and serve, but sometimes lines are crossed, unarmed people are hurt and killed, and there’s a lack of accountability. 

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Police Arrest Suspect in Fatal Fair Stabbing

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Jacob St. Amour - COURTESY WCAX
  • Courtesy WCAX
  • Jacob St. Amour
Police on Monday morning apprehended a 20-year-old Williston man in connection with the fatal stabbing of a man during the Champlain Valley Fair late Sunday night.

Essex police on Monday morning obtained an arrest warrant for Jacob St. Amour in connection with the slaying of 22-year-old Ryan Durkin of South Burlington, Essex Police Lt. Ken Beaulieu told Seven Days.

WCAX-TV reported that Williston police arrested St. Amour Monday morning.

The stabbing occurred around 11 p.m. as fair attendees celebrated its final hours. There were many witnesses, Beaulieu said.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Two Vermont Inmates Charged With Taking Guard Hostage

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 11:32 AM

Leroy Hughes - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Leroy Hughes
Two former Northern State Correctional Facility inmates have been charged with kidnapping and aggravated assault for taking a prison guard hostage earlier this month, Vermont State Police said on Tuesday.

Authorities charged Leroy Hughes, 32, and Mehmed Devac, 22, for the August 11 incident inside the Newport prison. They are scheduled to be arraigned in Orleans Superior Court in October. Kidnapping carries a maximum life sentence.

Mehmed Devac - VERMONT STATE POLICE
  • Vermont State Police
  • Mehmed Devac
The inmates allegedly held guard Malcolm Brown, 51, of Morgan, with a blade — a sharpened ruler — for two hours inside a room before they surrendered after negotiations, state police said.

The standoff drew a horde of officers from state police, the Orleans County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Border Patrol to the prison. Every prison in the state was briefly locked down in response, WCAX-TV reported.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Vermont Supreme Court Dismisses Case Against 'Jailhouse Lawyer'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 4:14 PM

Vermont Superior Court in Bennington - JANA SLEEMAN
  • Jana Sleeman
  • Vermont Superior Court in Bennington
The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday dismissed charges filed by Bennington County prosecutors against an inmate accused of improperly filing legal papers while volunteering as a "jailhouse attorney."

In a unanimous decision, justices said authorities had no legal basis to charge Martin "Serendipity" Morales, an inmate at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland who helped at least five inmates file legal briefs.

In February 2016, the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office, with the help of the Vermont Attorney General's Office, invoked an obscure statute to charge Morales, who is serving time for burglary and domestic assault, with practicing law without a license.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Vermont’s Revenge Porn Law Under First Amendment Challenge

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 9:33 AM

Vermont Superior Court in Bennington - JANA SLEEMAN
  • Jana Sleeman
  • Vermont Superior Court in Bennington
One year after it was implemented, Vermont’s “revenge porn” law, which forbids the distribution of sexually explicit images without the subject’s consent, is under legal threat.

A Bennington County judge recently threw out what appears to be the first criminal case brought under the law, citing concerns about its constitutionality. The case is likely to be heard by the Vermont Supreme Court.

Defense attorneys and other critics of the law, which was passed in response to concerns about vengeful ex-lovers posting explicit images of their former partners on social media, warned lawmakers in 2015 that it could run afoul of First Amendment protections. Previously, such cases could be heard in civil court, but there were no criminal penalties.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Burlington Cops and Clergy Break Bread and Talk About Diversity

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Lunch at Burlington police headquarters - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Lunch at Burlington police headquarters
At noon on Thursday, four brand new Burlington police recruits, dressed in dark suits and looking serious, arranged a lunch spread that included potato salad, sandwiches and peach pie.

The Burlington Police Department was hosting about 20 imams, ministers, rabbis and nuns. They sat around plastic tables making small talk. Some came in ankle-length gray robes and clerical collars; others wore floral skirts.

It was the third luncheon that Chief Brandon del Pozo has hosted for local clergy at the police department at 1 North Avenue — part of an effort to make inroads in the community at a time when mistrust toward police across the country is high.

Del Pozo and his visiting friend, Dean Esserman, who is the police chief in New Haven, Conn., did most of the sermonizing at first. They emphasized the importance of sharing ideas across departments; del Pozo noted that he cribbed the luncheon concept from Esserman.

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