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Law Enforcement

Friday, September 15, 2017

Jury Acquits Former Vermont Cop Who Shot Drug Suspect in 2014

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 4:03 PM

  • Courtesy of Jennifer Hauck/Valley News
  • Ryan Palmer in 2015
A jury this week found a former Windsor police officer not guilty of charges stemming from the shooting of a drug suspect during an undercover raid in 2014.

Ryan Palmer's case drew widespread attention, in part because on-duty Vermont police officers have so rarely in recent memory been charged with criminal offenses.

Former attorney general Bill Sorrell, who cleared police officers of criminal wrongdoing in most cases during his 20 year tenure, charged Palmer in 2015. But on Wednesday evening, a jury in Windsor Superior Court deliberated for six hours before acquitting Palmer of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment charges.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Reward Offered After NEK Farm Tagged With Racist, Nazi Graffiti

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 7:31 PM

Graffiti spray-painted at Andersonville Farm last week. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Graffiti spray-painted at Andersonville Farm last week.
The owners of Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who tagged one of their supplier's barns with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti.

An Andersonville Farm employee on Friday morning found a swastika, the Nazi "SS" symbol, a racial slur and the words "#get out" spray painted on a hoop barn at the West Glover dairy, which produces milk for Jasper Hill's famed Bayley Hazen Blue cheese.

Mateo Kehler, head cheesemaker and cofounder of the award-winning Jasper Hill Farm, posted a photo of the vandalism Monday on the cheese company's Facebook page, announcing the reward and deploring the incident.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vermont Judge Orders Google to Comply With Search Warrants

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 2:46 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
An Addison County judge has ordered Google to comply with search warrants seeking computer records in three child sex crime investigations, authorities announced Wednesday.

The internet giant refused to comply with the warrants because the information sought by Vermont prosecutors is stored on overseas servers, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said.

This legal issue is playing out in criminal courts across the country and could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Advocate: Transient's Latest Arrest Exposes Holes in Social Safety Net

Posted By on Fri, Aug 25, 2017 at 2:25 PM

  • Rob Donnelly
The recent arrest of a mentally ill homeless man in Burlington has prompted questions about the resources available for the city's most vulnerable — and volatile — individuals.

Michael Reynolds was arrested Saturday after he allegedly punched a Burlington restaurant owner in the chest. Reynolds is a familiar face to law enforcement: the altercation at East West Café was Reynolds's 861st documented incident with police since 2011. The 40-year-old transient appeared in court and was back on the street this week.

Police publicized Reynolds' lengthy criminal record in a press release emailed to local media Wednesday with the subject line, "DRUNKEN MAN ASSAULTS BUSINESS OWNER." But the release left out the fact that Reynolds, who's been arrested 117 times, is schizophrenic, according to a relative who lives out of state.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Notorious Transient Accused of Assaulting Burlington Business Owner

Posted By on Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 1:33 PM

Michael Reynolds - BURLINGTON POLICE
  • Burlington Police
  • Michael Reynolds
A drunken homeless man punched a Burlington restaurant owner in the chest after barging into the eatery and claiming he owned the place, according to police.

Michael Reynolds, 40, was arrested on a charge of simple assault after the incident Saturday at the East West Café at North Winooski Avenue and Pearl Street.

Reynolds also allegedly threatened to kill responding police officers and correctional officers at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, Burlington police said in a news release.

Police have made contact with Reynolds nearly 900 times since 2011, including 117 arrests — eight for felony crimes — resulting in 31 criminal convictions. He's also been issued dozens of tickets for infractions such as public urination, trespassing and carrying an open container, according to police.

Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo told Seven Days in a story published Wednesday that Reynolds owes the city nearly $12,000 in fines. The article examines a proposal to create a criminal penalty for those who repeatedly commit civil "quality of life" offenses such as "public drunkenness, fighting and public urination." Unpaid violations affect an individual's credit score — which is little deterrent for those with no income or assets.

"The lack of consequences is a root cause of what is an unfair burden on the rest of the community," del Pozo told Seven Days' Katie Jickling.

According to police, Reynolds was arraigned on the most recent charge and released on pre-trial conditions.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Vermont Cops to Increase Patrols After Nine Roadway Deaths

Posted By on Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 3:45 PM

Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson speaks at a traffic safety press conference in Waterbury on Tuesday. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson speaks at a traffic safety press conference in Waterbury on Tuesday.
Vermont drivers can expect to see increased traffic patrols in the coming days after nine people died in motor vehicle collisions across the state since Friday night, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson said that the "startling" spate of fatal wrecks demonstrates the dangers of distracted driving and failing to wear a seatbelt.

Seven of the nine people killed were not wearing a seatbelt, officials said, including four young people who died Monday morning on Route 22A in Bridport. Officials said their Volkswagen Beetle crossed the centerline and slammed head-on into a pickup truck.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Judge Rejects Vermont AG's Broad Public Records Exemption Claim

Posted By on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 3:51 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
A Vermont Superior Court judge on Thursday dismissed a sweeping claim by the Attorney General's Office that it could invoke attorney-client privilege to prevent the release of public records.

Judge Mary Miles Teachout's ruling is the latest development in a long-running dispute between the industry-funded Energy & Environment Legal Institute and state attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil.

E&E Legal sued the Vermont Attorney General's Office in June 2016 after then-AG Bill Sorrell categorically refused to hand over any documents related to the multistate climate-change investigation. Sorrell's successor, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, inherited the case. In March, his staff argued in court that because the office represents the state, it could invoke attorney-client privilege and only release documents when doing so is in the state's interest.

While such an argument could have broad implications for the state's public records law, Donovan and his deputies later insisted to Seven Days that their office would honor most public records requests.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Attorney General Donovan: DMV Facial Recognition Program Illegal

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 12:50 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE
  • File
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Updated at 1:15 p.m.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles' facial recognition program violates state law and should remain suspended, Attorney General T.J. Donovan said Tuesday.

Donovan said the program, which includes 2.7 million images of license applicants and has previously been shared with police, violates a 2004 law barring the DMV from using "biometric identifiers" in granting identification cards.

The DMV suspended use of facial recognition in May after Seven Days, using documents uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, published a story on the program.

The DMV should not restart the program unless it gets legislative approval, Donovan said.

"This is about balancing public safety with the privacy rights of Vermonters," Donovan said.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

In a Surprising Turn, McAllister Takes the Witness Stand

Posted By and on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 1:08 PM

Norm McAllister testifying Friday - GREGORY J. LAMOUREUX/COUNTY COURIER
  • Norm McAllister testifying Friday
Updated at 7:45 p.m.

Former state senator Norm McAllister took the witness stand in his own defense on Friday morning and said the woman who has accused him of sexual assault cajoled him into a months-long consensual relationship.

He was the final witness, and faced tough questions during cross-examination. Jurors began deliberating the case around 5:30 p.m.

McAllister forcefully denied ever coercing or assaulting the alleged victim during testimony in Franklin Superior Court. He claimed that she initiated a sexual relationship in January 2014, several months after she had come to live and work at his farm.

At the time, McAllister said, he was grieving the loss of his wife, who died of cancer in September 2013, only two months after she was diagnosed. Meanwhile, the victim had lost her children to the Department for Children and Families, and took the job in hopes of getting them back.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alleged Victim Takes the Stand in McAllister Trial

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

The alleged victim in the sexual assault trial of former state senator Norm McAllister took the witness stand Thursday morning and said she agreed to a sex-for-rent scheme with him out of desperation.

Back in 2012, the woman testified, the Department for Children and Families had taken her children. She was living in a homeless shelter in St. Albans. To have any chance to get her kids back, she needed a job and a place to live, she testified. She answered a Craigslist ad for someone willing to live and work on a Highgate farm.

McAllister, who had taken out the ad, told her he had other applicants with more experience, she recalled.

She recounted the following conversation while on the witness stand in Franklin Superior Court: To land the job, she told McAllister she would be willing to do anything, including household chores, cooking meals or running errands.

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