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Monday, January 14, 2019

Madelyn Linsenmeir to Cops in Booking Video: 'I'm Very Ill Right Now'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 7:46 PM

Madelyn Linsenmeir, center, on September 29, 2018 - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Madelyn Linsenmeir, center, on September 29, 2018
Video of the booking room at the Springfield, Mass., police department on September 29 captured a distressed Madelyn Linsenmeir asking for water and medical care as officers methodically went through the booking routine and ignored her requests.

Several days later, on October 7, the Vermont woman died at a Massachusetts hospital. She'd battled drug addiction for years.

A poignant obituary for Linsenmeir, written by her sister Kate O'Neill, went viral. O'Neill wrote that the family hoped her sister's story would help others let go of the stigma related to addiction. (After it ran, Seven Days hired O'Neill for a special reporting project on the ongoing opiate crisis.)

Linsenmeir's family members are also looking for answers about their loved one's final days. The family, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, sued the Springfield PD in November, seeking video and other information related to her arrest.

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White Nationalist Crashes Press Conference on Racial Harassment of Kiah Morris

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 at 3:52 PM

  • Derek Brouwer
  • Kiah Morris
Updated 8:14 p.m.

A self-proclaimed white nationalist accused of harassing former state representative Kiah Morris strode into the Congregation Beth El synagogue in Bennington during a press conference held Monday to announce the findings of a state probe into alleged racist acts against the ex-lawmaker.

Morris, a Bennington Democrat who is African American, cited years of racial harassment when she resigned from her position last fall before the end of her term.

The press conference went off the rails when Bennington resident Max Misch entered the room as Morris answered a television reporter's question about the AG's probe. Misch had been subject to a yearlong protective order in 2016 prohibiting him from contacting Morris over a series of racist tweets, messages and online comments he aimed at her.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

More Police Officers Report 'Career-Altering' Training Injuries

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:26 PM

  • Dreamstime
Three additional law enforcement officers have come forward reporting serious injuries sustained during training drills at the Vermont Police Academy, according to attorney Jerry O’Neill, who is representing a Burlington officer in a lawsuit against the academy. reported Monday that an investigation by the Burlington Police Department found that Officer Erin Bartle and two others sustained injuries such as concussions and hearing loss during an academy drill known as the “hitchhiker scenario.” A fourth officer was knocked unconscious. During the drill, instructors punched recruits in the head without warning. Bartle is suing the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, which oversees the academy.

Since news of the lawsuit broke, O’Neill said, at least three more law enforcement officials have come forward. Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Poulin, 44, is one of them.

Poulin gave Seven Days the following account of what happened to him: He has a history of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, so he warned instructors before a training at the Washington County Sheriff's Office that a hit to the head could end his career. The instructors were certified by the Vermont Police Academy as use-of-force trainers.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Overdoses Prompt Policy Change in Vermont Prisons

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2019 at 3:03 PM

  • Dreamstime
Two inmates overdosed over the weekend in the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, prompting corrections officials to place the prison on lockdown while Vermont State Police canines searched for drugs.

One inmate was discovered without a pulse, but both survived. Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette said the drug they ingested was likely K2 or Spice — synthetic cannabinoids.

Corrections officials said both inmates were given the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. The department acknowledged that Narcan doesn’t have an effect in reversing a non-opiate overdose, but it’s policy to administer the drug whenever an inmate is found unresponsive with no apparent injuries.

Two other Vermont inmates have overdosed during the past six months or so. Staff quickly used Narcan to reverse those overdoses.

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Vermont Supreme Court: State Police Liable in Search

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 3:56 PM

Vermont Supreme Court - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont Supreme Court
The Vermont Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday in favor of an African American motorist who challenged a 2014 stop by a state trooper as unlawful and racially motivated. The ruling said the police could be held liable for the improper stop and search.

The Vermont ACLU, which represented motorist Gregory Zullo, said in a press release that the ruling was a victory for all Vermonters, and especially Vermonters of color such as Zullo.

"Police have had enormous discretion to stop and search motorists, including for erroneous or pretextual reasons and on the basis of implicit or explicit bias," said Lia Ernst, the ACLU attorney who argued the case. "In ruling that police can be liable for such acts, this decision sends a clear message — no one is above the law, and if police make bad stops, they can and will be held accountable.”

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Police: Burlington Man Stole Packages With Kid in Tow

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 2:55 PM

  • Courtesy Burlington Police Department
  • Jackie Walters
Burlington police arrested a man who allegedly traveled around the Queen City under cover of darkness while giving packages to a child.

But unlike Santa Claus, Jackie Walters wasn't making deliveries. The 33-year-old Burlington resident was allegedly stealing packages from homes in the city's Old North End and Hill Sections. The 11-year-old child Walters brought along was an "unwitting accomplice," according to police.

“The man had been seen roaming the city overnight, allegedly removing whatever packages he could find,” Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo wrote in a press release after Walters was arrested Tuesday morning.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Church Street Mural Vandalism Suspect Avoids Criminal Charges

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2018 at 1:18 PM

A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism - FILE: MATTHEW ROY
  • File: Matthew Roy
  • A tarp covering the mural after the Halloween vandalism
Prosecutors have decided to hold off on charges for Eric Maier, a Burlington musician who was arrested last week on suspicion of twice defacing a controversial downtown mural.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George told Seven Days via email Friday that Maier’s case was referred to the Burlington Community Justice Center.

"CJC referrals are pre-charge, so he’s not officially 'charged,'" George wrote, "but we didn’t decline to prosecute it either. If [Maier] completes CJC then he won’t have to appear in court. If he does not, he will be officially 'charged' and have to appear in court."

Maier, who performed with the recently disbanded psych-pop quintet Madaila, was arrested December 5, more than a month after he allegedly used a chemical solution to destroy parts of the mural depicting Caucasian people’s faces. Margaux Higgins of Burlington was arrested November 7 on suspicion of being an accessory to the crime.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Winooski Green Card Holder Faces Deportation for Pot Conviction

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 12:27 PM

Thao Vo with his fiancee and her daughters - COURTESY OF THAO VO
  • Courtesy of Thao Vo
  • Thao Vo with his fiancee and her daughters
Thao Vo was riding to the bank on his motorcycle last August when a man driving a black Dodge Durango pulled him over. A federal agent got out of the SUV and told Vo he was being detained and taken to a federal immigration facility in St. Albans.

It was the beginning of six months behind bars for Vo, a Vietnamese citizen who has lived legally in the U.S. with a green card since 1999, when he was 6. He got out in March on supervised release. But officials have since told him that he must wear a GPS tracking device until he's deported to Vietnam in February because of a 2016 conviction for marijuana possession.

Along with his fiancée, Desiree Mora, and close friends, Vo is trying to raise money and publicity to fight the government’s decision.

“My whole immediate family is over here. Everybody,” Vo said in an interview. “I’ve been here for 20 years. I’ve made my mistakes, but I’ve never blamed anybody for my mistakes.”

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Lawsuit: Feds Used an Informant to Infiltrate Migrant Justice

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 12:11 PM

The Migrant Justice rally outside the federal courthouse - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • The Migrant Justice rally outside the federal courthouse
Updated 7:35 p.m.

Federal immigration authorities used a civilian informant to infiltrate meetings of Migrant Justice as part of a larger, sustained surveillance campaign that targeted members for their activism, the group alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security to engage in an illegal effort to “harass, arrest and detain” farmworker activists, Migrant Justice said in a statement. Its suit names ICE, DHS and the DMV as defendants.

The plaintiffs are represented by a coalition of activists and legal heavyweights: the ACLU of Vermont, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, the National Immigration Law Center, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a large law firm headquartered in Los Angeles.
The plaintiffs, from left to right: Miguel Alcudia Gamas, Zully Palacios Rodriguez, Jose Enrique Balcazar Sanchez and Victor Diaz - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • The plaintiffs, from left to right: Miguel Alcudia Gamas, Zully Palacios Rodriguez, Jose Enrique Balcazar Sanchez and Victor Diaz

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

ACLU Appeals to Vermont Supreme Court for Burlington Cops' Body Camera Footage

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 11:59 AM

  • Oliver parini
The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is going to the state's top court in hopes of obtaining Burlington police body camera footage of an alleged use of force against children.

Burlington resident Reed Doyle says he saw officers threaten to pepper-spray a group of children in Roosevelt Park in June 2017. Doyle said that as one of the youths walked backward with his hands up, an officer pushed him forcefully with both arms. The boy, who appeared to be 11 to 13 years old, protested and was arrested, Doyle claims.

Doyle submitted a written complaint to the police department and police commission. Frustrated by what he said was a lack of followup, he filed a public records request for body camera footage.

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