UPDATE: Another day, another police shooting
On Tuesday morning, 32-year-old Nathan Giffin allegedly robbed the Vermont State Employees Credit Union in Montpelier.
Shortly thereafter, purportedly for "making threats," he was mowed down by eight state troopers and one police officer:
Numerous law enforcement agencies responded and surrounded Giffin.
State police say officers shot him after he refused their orders to drop his handgun and made threatening statements toward law enforcement including suicidal statements.
Video from local television station WCAX shows, however, that Giffin was pointing his "handgun" at the ground when he was shot.
Oh, and about that "handgun?" It was a BB gun.
Giffin was clearly a troubled young man, whose known cocaine and heroin addictions likely fueled several crimes of desperation, including this one.
We're also learning more about who Nathan Giffin was. Our Tyler Dumont spoke with multiple people who knew Giffin. Among them, a police sergeant who interviewed Giffin less than a month ago. He says Giffin told him about some personal struggles and wanting to improve his life ...
Chamberlain interviewed Giffin when he was a suspect in burglaries at a Walmart and Toys R Us. His affidavit from the case shows Giffin revealed a cocaine and heroin addiction, something he reportedly wanted to change, telling police he tried to get into rehab but the wait list was too long.
"He expressed some unhappiness that he was 32 years old and still leading a life of crime, and still using drugs, and just wasn't happy with where his life was going," Chamberlain said.
Now, he will never have the chance to turn his life around.
"We're all heartbroken," Cordes said. "Obviously, a lot happened between high school and now, but the person that we knew was a lovely guy."
(Above quote from the previously linked Burlington Free Press article about the BB gun).
Not to worry, however. All nine officers have been placed on administrative leave -- presumably so they can get their stories straight:
No laws or statewide policies in Vermont govern when to interview law enforcement officers who have discharged their weapons in the line of duty. Individual departments decide.
Vermont State Police policy requires that troopers submit a written report within 24 hours of using lethal force and go on paid leave for at least three days. The policy provides no guidance on the timing of interviews ...
"Whenever feasible, officers should have some recovery time before providing a full formal statement," [the International Association of Chiefs of Police] 2013 policy paper states. "An officer's memory will often benefit from at least one sleep cycle prior to being interviewed, leading to more coherent and accurate statements."
While on leave, the state troopers' actions will be investigated by ... the Vermont State Police.
No, Virginia, you can't make this shit up.
No justice, no peace.
UPDATE (Friday 1/19): Surprise, surprise, surprise. This isn't the first rodeo for two of the troopers involved in Giffin's shooting.
Two of the troopers identified also fired shots in a standoff last summer that left a Poultney man dead. Michael Battles was also wielding a BB gun. The officers were put on administrative leave and were eventually cleared after an investigation by the Vermont attorney general’s office and the Rutland County state’s attorney’s office.
The two troopers involved in both shootings were Sgt. Lyle Decker, based at the St. Johnsbury state police barracks and hired July 12, 2004, and Trooper Christopher Brown, of the Middlesex state police barracks, hired Jan. 16, 2012. Both are members of the state police tactical unit.
According to another article linked to the above, Battles had allegedly been involved in a domestic assault and, during his standoff with five state troopers, similarly made suicidal references. But I'm sure the arrival of a state police "tactical vehicle" helped re-instate a sense of calm. /s
I'm guilty of over-using the phrase, "I just can't even." But I just can't even.
What's the over/under on these troopers once again being cleared of any wrongdoing by the complicit AG's office?
Never mind. Don't answer that.