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STATE OF VERMONT OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL 109 STATE STREET MONTPELIER, VT 05609-1001 (802) 828-3171 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Cindy Maguire
June 29, 1998
Rutland County States Attorney James Mongeon and Attorney General William Sorrell announced today that they have completed separate reviews of an incident on May 26, 2006 in Rutland, Vermont, during which Robert Reid died while in the custody of the Rutland City Police. He was in custody after he punched a Rutland City Police Officer who had responded to that location due to a 911 hang up call and a report of a violent man at that building. Both offices concluded that the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charge” against any of the officers involved in the incident. The investigation conducted by the Vermont State Police reported that the incident began at about 6:30 p.m. when a 911 hang up call was placed from an apartment at 33 Strongs Ave., in Rutland, where Mr. Reid lived. That location is just across the street from the Rutland City Police Department. At about the same time, several witnesses reported seeing an individual, later identified as Mr. Reid, outside of the building at 33 Strongs Ave., shouting profanities, acting irrationally, and then punching out a glass window in the door to the building.
When officers from the Rutland City Police Department located Mr. Reid in his apartment, they initially sought to determine what had happened, and if Mr. Reid needed help. One of the officers, Ed Dumas, recognized Mr. Reid from previous police work. However, shortly after indicating that he had placed the 911 call, and declining to explain why, Mr. Reid assaulted Officer Dumas by punching him in the face. Officer Dumas and Cpl. Charles Hall then attempted to arrest Mr. Reid for the assault on a police officer, but Mr. Reid became extremely combative and resisted arrest. The officers gave Mr. Reid repeated verbal commands to cease fighting, which were ignored. Mr. Reid was warned that if he did not stop resisting, he would be subjected to pepper spray.
He continued to strike, kick, try to bite, and spit at the officers, even after the use of pepper spray. After Officer Joe Bartlett and Sgt. David Shauwecker arrived to assist, the four officers were finally able to restrain Mr. Reid with handcuffs and a leg hobble strap. Mr. Reid continued to spit at the officers, which was of concern because Officer Dumas knew, and informed the other officers, that Mr. Reid had been previously diagnosed with Hepatitis C. A pillowcase was placed over Mr. Reid’s head to prevent the continued spitting. Mr. Reid, now restrained but still struggling, was then carried out of the apartment by three of the officers and placed in a prone position on the back seat of a police cruiser. Mr. Reid continued to struggle and press against the rear passenger door as the officers attempted to close it. As soon as the door was closed Mr. Reid was transported across the street intersection to the police station for processing on the assault charge. Immediately upon arrival outside of the police station, the officers noted Mr. Reid was having difficulty breathing, and the pillowcase and all of the restraints were removed. An ambulance was promptly called, and the officers began performing CPR on Mr. Reid. The ambulance arrived within minutes and EMTs took over resuscitation attempts on Mr. Reid.
Mr. Reid was transported to the Rutland Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 7:25 p.m. The results of an autopsy performed by the Medical Examiner’s Office found abrasions and contusions to the head, neck, torso and extremities, consistent with the struggle described by the police. Toxicology results revealed the presence of a combination of substances related to marijuana consumption, pain medications, anti-depressants, muscle relaxants, and other drugs related to the resuscitation attempts.
It is the Medical Examiner’ s opinion that the cause of death was: “Sudden death with aspiration following violent physical struggle which included pepper spraying, hooding, hobble tying and prone positioning while under the influence of drugs.” In this case, the police were confronted with an individual who, on the one hand made a 911 call and then hung up, and on the other, had punched out a glass window. He assaulted one of the responding officers and then resisted arrest and remained combative despite repeated warnings to behave otherwise. The police responded to these continued provocations with a series of measured and progressively more forceful attempts at restraint. Under the facts of this case, the Rutland County State’s Attorney and the Attorney General’ s Office concluded that the evidence does not establish criminal wrongdoing by the officers to justify the filing of criminal charges against any of the officers involved.