By Guy Page
Burlington police decided to not pursue fleeing assault suspect Matthew Kaigle Wednesday “due to his unpredictable violent history,” police said yesterday. He remains at large.
At 1:30 pm Wednesday, police received multiple 911 calls regarding an assault near City Market on Flynn Avenue. Once on the scene, police learned Kaigle, 33, had gotten into a white Chevy truck and fled the area.
Police say Kaigle assaulted a black man in Battery Park July 31, the latest in a string of assaults. Despite having four open charges against him, he has not been incarcerated. With him on the street, “unfortunately the victims did not want to cooperate with Police due to fear of retaliation from Kaigle,” police said.
According to a Sept. 2 police statement, The latest incident began when Kaigle had been stopped in traffic on Flynn Avenue, where flaggers were directing traffic at a construction site. Kaigle yelled at the flaggers on the first encounter and proceeded to City Market. Kaigle then returned and got verbally aggressive towards the flaggers. Kaigle exited his vehicle and slapped one of the flaggers.
Another employee of the Traffic Control Company witnessed the assault and came running over to help his fellow co-worker. Kaigle threw a punch at him but missed. Kaigle retrieved a large 8-10” hunting knife from his wristband and brandished the knife. Kaigle said he would stab them and did not care who was watching. He then fled the scene in his truck.
A short time later, police stopped Kaigle near North and Rose streets. They tried to take Kaigle into custody. He refused to exit his vehicle after being told multiple times he was under arrest. After a few minutes speaking with Officers, Kaigle put his vehicle in drive and fled the scene. At that point, “officers did not pursue Kaigle due to his unpredictable violent history,” the police statement says.
The statement does not further explain the decision to not pursue. Some police departments have a policy of declining vehicular pursuit of suspected non-dangerous criminals, due to collision risks to police, suspect, and the general public.
Kaigle currently has four open court cases to include; 1-Simple Assault, 2-Aggravated Assaults, and 1-Domestic Assault charge from August 2020. Kaigle has an open criminal investigation regarding a Violation of a Restraining Order. Kaigle is also a person of interest in an assault that occurred on Church St on the night of 30 August 2021. Kaigle has multiple court conditions already issued to him.
Kaigle’s criminal history showed 1 Violation of Court Ordered or Conditions (0 conviction), 11 Felonies charges (2 convictions), 11 Misdemeanor charges (5 convictions), 8 Assaultive crime charges (0 conviction), 1 Assault of Law Enforcement, 1 Dangerous/Deadly Weapon related charges, and 4 violations of Probation/Parole charges (0 conviction).
Kaigle has had approximately 54 law enforcement encounters since January 2021. In May 2021, Kaigle was arrested for Aggravated Assault when he used his vehicle as a battering-ram to move another vehicle out of the way that was blocking an exit to a parking lot. In July 2021, Kaigle was a person of interest in a fight in which Kaigle retrieved a sledge hammer, threatening the other male. Kaigle has displayed many violent tendencies towards other members of the public in recent months, unfortunately the victims did not want to cooperate with Police due to fear of retaliation from Kaigle.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Police Department at (802) 658-2704. Investigation is still pending.
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In a related story, an online comment by former City Council candidate Christopher Aaron-Felker blaming State’s Attorney Sarah George for failing to incarcerate violent suspects was dropped from the WCAX website. George has a well-publicized policy of preferring mental health counseling and community services over incarcerating some repeat violent offenders.
Today, September 7, WCAX News Director explained why Felker’s comments were dropped: “Mr. Felker’s comments were blocked because they included links, which is a violation of our commenting policy,” he wrote in an email to Vermont Daily Chronicle. When the story first broke last week, Garrity said he was unaware of the reason but promised to investigate and inform us.
“I posted a comment (attached below) on the WCAX Facebook post around 12:30pm. The comment quickly garnered 9 “likes,” and by 1:30pm I went about my day,” Felker told Vermont Daily Chronicle. “When I returned to Facebook at 430 pm – I noticed that WCAX had removed/censored my comment. At this point I reposted the exact same statement and took a screenshot to document the post & time.”
“By Friday morning the 2nd posting of my comment was, again, censored by WCAX. As you can see the comment is a relevant & valid criticism of an elected government officer – the comment is neither inflammatory nor hyperbolic.”
As seen in the accompanying screenshot, Felker wrote: “Chittenden County residents deserve a state’s attorney that cares enough about public safety to keep people like this off our streets. Sarah George’s failures as state’s attorney continue to place Vermonters at risk.”
Felker called the comment removal “untenable censorship from major news outlets.”
Editor’s note: this news story includes material copied directly from a September 2 Burlington police department press release.