Crime

Two deadly lists

Since early 2019, four Vermonters have been killed by police; 14 people are victims of murder

By Guy Page

June 16, 2020 – Vermonters are grappling with emotionally-charged issues of policing and racial justice. Sometimes it helps to step back and examine the raw data. 

In just over a year, how many Vermonters have died at the hands of police? Who were they? In a separate list, how many Vermonters have been murdered? Who were they, and how did they die? And – a sadly important consideration these days – what was the racial identity of both groups?

The murder victim data was compiled with the assistance of Adam Silverman, Public Information Officer of the Vermont State Police. The list of people dying at the hands of Vermont police was drawn primarily from a February, 2020 database prepared by VT Digger and Allen Gilbert, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont. 

Links to photos and more information about the slain are included in this spreadsheet. Despite efforts to be thorough, oversights are always possible. Details of killings are as reported by police and media.

Vermonters Murder Victims since April 19, 2019

  1. 4/19/19, in Burlington, Benzel Hampton (black) was shot (according to police, media reports) in a drug-trafficking related dispute.
  2. 7/11/19 , in Hinesburg, David Auclair (white) was shot by stepson, an alleged marijuana dealer, who was prompted by the victim’s wife.
  3. 7/31/19, in an apartment on Pearl St. in St. Johnsbury, Neftaly Martinez (hispanic) of Connecticut was shot by unknown person(s) who fled and have not been apprehended. 
  4. 10/8/19, in Salisbury, Nicholas Louras (white) was shot by cousin Chris Louras of Rutland.
  5. 11/1/19, in Rockingham, delivery truck driver Roberto Fonseca-Rivera (hispanic) was shot by person(s) unknown. The victim had a drug crime history and circumstances have led to speculation the killing may have been an act of revenge.
  6. 11/3/19 , in Winooski, Hannah Keyes (white) died of compression to the neck and chest. A “person of interest” to police was her fiance, who is presumed dead after jumping to his death into the Winooski River.
  7. 12/2/19, in Bristol, Candice Guilmette (white) was shot by husband, who was suffering from mental illness; he then killed himself.
  8. Shot on 3/24/19 in Burlington and dying 12-30-19, Khyann Jones (black) was shot by an acquaintance after commenting about his romantic life.
  9. 3/3/20, in Cambridge, Michael Haines (white) was s hot by Philadelphia man in dispute over heroin.
  10. 3/14/20, in Bolton, Cameron Faling (white) had his throat slit by a girlfriend who later said he was abusive.
  11. 3/17/20, in Royalton, George Sun (white) was shot by his ex-girlfriend’s son.
  12. 4/26/20, in Burlington, Steven Martin (black) was shot after two men entered his home.One suspect has a violent criminal record.
  13. 5/4/20, in Newport, Kevin Atkins (white) was shot by father-in-law.
  14. 6/5/20, in Swanton, Kyle LaBelle (white) was shot by a Swanton man after LaBelle told him not to pet his dog.

Vermonters Killed by Police:

  1. 10/1/2019, in Rutland, Chris Louras (white) was shot by Rutland PD shortly after firing into a police station. He was the son of the former mayor and cousin of murder victim Nick Louras. He had known drug problems. 
  2. 8/9/2019, in Montpelier, Mark Johnson (white) was shot by Montpelier police during a standoff in which he carried a pellet gun. He had mental health problems known to police. 
  3. 5/11/2019, in Bethel, Jeremy Potwin (white) was shot by Vermont State Police after taking his pregnant girlfriend hostage with a firearm. 
  4. 3/13/2019, in Burlington, Douglas Kilburn (white) died at the hospital after initiating a fistfight with a Burlington police officer. 

In each of the four cases of Vermonters killed by police, investigations were conducted and police were cleared of criminal wrongdoing.

Obituary photo of April, 2019 Burlington murder victim Benzel Hampton

Categories: Crime

4 replies »

  1. That last sentence is either reassuring or suspect depending on how you look at it. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, and all that.

    • Colin, that is indeed one of the concerns expressed by policing reform advocates. I’ve watched the body cam footage of the Burlington cop encounter with Kilburn. He’s professional and patient with a very difficult Kilburn until, just as things are really settling down, he makes a tired, angry, profane comment. Which sets off Kilburn, who is much older and out-of-shape and who VERY unwisely takes a swing at the cop. The cop punches back. Soon Kilburn is in the hospital. What the cop did wasn’t criminal, but (from my armchair) could have been handled better. What a hard job they have.

  2. That (the hard job) is an element of police reform that I don’t hear people taking seriously.
    I would wager that PTSD is far more common among police than soldiers.
    If there’s any reform that I would like to see, it would be separating the police into two distinct services:
    1) Unarmed officials who are there to discuss laws, codes, procedures, and penalties.
    2) Officials who are definitely NOT there to talk.
    The current job combines both roles, and ensures that even if you could afford to hire the rare person qualified to do everything we expect of the position, they will constantly be lied to and put into dangerous situations where they are the last ones to know it. Of course people are going to get hurt.

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