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Taser Death Still Festers in Vermont

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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   No Formal Finding of "Reasonable Fear for Safety"


The press release noted that, under Vermont law, the killing might be justified if the officer was found to be in reasonable fear for his safety or the safety of others.  The release is clear that neither prosecutor has formally made that finding, only that they have agreed that they would have a hard time proving that the use of force was unreasonable under the circumstances. 


Most of the release goes on to give the Attorney General's version of the events of June 20, 2012, an account that is largely consistent with the public record, but with significant omissions that contribute to the creation of an overall false impression. 


Although previous reports by the State Police and media refer to only one phone call, the report describes the start of the chain of events leading to Mason's death this way: 


"The [State Police] investigation determined that after 3:00 pm on June 20, 2012, the Vermont State Police barracks in Bradford received two calls from personnel at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center requesting a welfare check at an address in Thetford, Vermont. Dispatch was told that an unidentified male at the address, who sounded intoxicated, had stated that he was suicidal and homicidal, that he had access to weapons and that he hoped the police would shoot him." 


To date, the caller or callers from the hospital have not been publicly identified and transcripts of the call or calls have not been made public.  The initial State Police "press statement" on June 21 indicated a single phone call from an "Intake Crisis Technician" at 1511 hours -- but made no reference to "a welfare check" or to Mason's expressing any hope the police would shoot him.   Since the Attorney General's report itself is still secret, it's hard to know where those variations come from, but they do tend to denigrate the victim to the benefit of the police who killed him. 


   Unidentified Troopers Told to Leave Premises 


The press release goes on to describe unidentified "troopers" finding Mason inside his house, where he refused to come out or to let them in.  The police then contacted the homeowner, Mason's life partner, Theresa Davidonis, who came promptly to the scene.  She found the house empty, but found Mason in the woods behind the house, where she talked with him for awhile, or as the press release characterizes it:


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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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