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Taser Death Still Festers in Vermont

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"Ms. Davidonis subsequently found the unidentified male -- Macadam Mason -- in the woods near the house and could be heard arguing with him.  Ms. Davidonis asked the troopers to leave because she said that their presence was aggravating Mason. She also said that she would take custody of Mason." 

The troopers then left.  Although the press release doesn't describe the troopers' interaction with Ms Davidonis any further, one might assume that as a matter of professional competence, they would have completed their "welfare check" in some fashion before leaving.   In any event, they had been implicitly if not explicitly reassured as to Mason's welfare.  Additionally, they knew they had been asked to leave private property, they knew they had no indication of criminal activity, and they had no warrant. 

Nevertheless, after Ms Davidonis left to go back to work, the troopers surreptitiously returned to the property some time later.  These events were developing slowly, more than three hours would pass from the initial hospital phone call to the fatal tasering. 

The AG's press release omits any timeline, allowing a reader to get the impression that events happened quickly, without time for thoughtful action.  Whether deliberate or not, this is a false impression. 

   Motivation of Troopers' Return is Unexplained 

When the troopers left the property, they had no apparent reason to think Mason was anything but all right, according to the AG's press release, which goes on:

"After the troopers left her home she [Ms Davidonis] went back to work. In light of the requested welfare check and the information provided, the troopers returned to the residence to personally confirm that Mason was okay. Trooper David Shaffer was directed to assist with setting up a perimeter in the woods near the house. Tpr. Shaffer was not aware of reports that Mason had a history of seizures." 

This account not only fails to explain why the troopers thought they needed to trespass on Ms Davidonis's property against her expressed will, it fails to explain why they thought they should take a quasi-military approach to an apparently  peaceful situation by setting up "a perimeter" around the house -- especially when they had reason to  know there was a possibility Mason was still in the woods.   And they had been told that their presence was "aggravating him." 

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The press release does not say what else Ms Davidonis told them, but if the troopers acted with reasonable professionalism, they had learned the basic outline of Mason's condition: that he was epileptic, that he had had a seizure the night before, that his present state of mind was part of a pattern familiar to Ms Davidonis. 

The rest of the official press release creates the utterly false impression that Trooper Shaffer and Mason were in a one-on-one face-off with no one else around.  The release says that Shaffer realized that Mason was unarmed and, in reaction, shouldered his M-4 rifle, but that Mason moved toward him and that he " told investigators that he believed that Mason was going to physically assault him"."

   AG Press Release Riddled with Misleading Omissions

The press release does not mention that there were at least three other State Police troopers and a police dog on the scene at point, and that one or more of the troopers witnessed the killing. 

The press release does not mention that Ms Davidonis had returned to the scene with her son, and that they both witnessed the killing. 

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The press release does not mention that Ms Davidonis shouted warnings that Mason was in a vulnerable condition.  

The press release does not mention that the autopsy, which was performed in New Hampshire, attributed the cause of death to the taser.  The autopsy report remains secret. 

The press release does not address the question of why, when there was no identifiable emergency, at least four troopers and a police dog decided they needed to enter property they'd been told to stay off and then created a situation in which one of them killed an unarmed man over the shouted warnings of Ms Davidonis. 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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and I would insert it under Funny and next to Valu... by molly cruz on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 6:02:16 PM
even though it took me awhile to figure it out... by William Boardman on Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 6:58:14 PM