AG USES SECRET REPORTS, PUBLIC EVASIONS TO JUSTIFY NON-PROSECUTION
By William Boardman Email address removed
When the Attorney General of Vermont decided not to prosecute a Vermont State trooper who used a taser to kill an unarmed, 39-year-old epileptic artist, few Vermonters were surprised, most of the Vermont media managed to get the story partly wrong -- and none of the media took note of clear falsification in the AG's press release describing his decision.
AG William Sorrell, 65, issued a carefully written release on Friday, January 25, announcing that "criminal charges should not be filed" against Trooper David Shaffer, 29, who used his taser to kill Macadam Mason, 39, on June 20, 2012, at his home in Thetford. Sorrell's press release indicated that he and a county prosecutor had "completed independent reviews" of the fatal "incident," but it did not explain their conclusion beyond saying, in summary:
"The review was solely to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued against Trooper David Shaffer". In a criminal case, the State bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer's use of force was unreasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case.
In other words, the prosecutors seem to imply, the trooper may or may not be actually guilty, but they don't think they have enough evidence to make a conviction a sure thing. But they do not explain why they think that.
Although the "reviews" were done by the prosecutors' separate offices, the actual investigation of the Vermont State trooper was done by the Vermont State Police itself. There has been no independent investigation by any other official entity.