by Mike Donoghue
BURLINGTON — A St. Johnsbury man was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation Tuesday following his third arrest in 24 hours, including separate assault incidents involving a hospital emergency worker and a Burlington Police patrol sergeant, court records show.
Brandon R. Clough, 42, was not arraigned in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington when he appeared Tuesday afternoon by video from the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans Town, records show.
Instead Judge Michael Harris ordered the mental evaluation. No pleas were entered to the two misdemeanor charges of simple assault on police and simple assault on a protected professional — a hospital worker.
Clough’s initial scheduled arraignment Tuesday morning was postponed so he could undergo a preliminary screening, court records show. By the time Clough appeared in court in the afternoon the judge was told the defendant needed an inpatient evaluation, records show.
Judge Harris struck the $200 bail holding him at the prison and agreed to release Clough on conditions, including that he stay away from the UVM Medical Center and the Burlington Police Department unless he needed their professional services.
Harris also ordered Clough to stay away from Police Sgt. Dwayne Mellis and hospital worker Cody Morgan.
“If we want proof that certain things are not working, this case presents it,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said Tuesday afternoon.
“Our partners at the hospital recently gained national attention for the increase in violence that they’ve suffered, and here we have a man who broke into someone’s home, who assaulted hospital staff, who clearly cannot make good decisions and is a danger to himself and the community,” Murad said.
“And yet he was released on conditions and within minutes assaulted a police officer. Jail may not be the right place for someone who harms others but whose behavior may be driven, in part, by mental-health issues. But until we create more capacity for desperately needed custodial care, it’s the place we have,” he said.
“Our neighbors—people in their homes, hospital workers, police officers—they all deserve to be safe,” the chief said in a news release.
Murad did not respond to a request for an interview for several media outlets.
The case all began when Burlington Police responded about 9:30 p.m. Sunday to an emergency call for help from a resident at 214 King Street who reported he had returned to his apartment to find his door’s chain lock had been set from inside, court records show.
An unknown, uninvited person was inside his apartment, police said. The resident reported the intruder refused to open the door and indicated he planned to take a shower, police said. Responding officers said they entered the apartment and took a naked man, later identified as Clough, into custody.
Clough appeared to be under the influence of some substance, according to Cpl. Daniel Delgado, one of the responding officers. When questioned about what he consumed, Clough responded mushrooms, police said.
Clough made statements that he had unlawfully entered the apartment by a fire escape and window, police said. Officers issued him a citation to appear in court for a felony unlawful trespass charge. He was later taken to UVM Medical Center for a check.
The following night about 7:12 p.m., Burlington Police responded to the UVM Medical Center for a report of an assault on a worker, Murad said. A male patient in the Emergency Department reportedly assaulted Morgan by punching him in the face, police said. Hospital staff actively restrained the man, who was eventually identified as Clough, the chief said.
Officers learned Clough had just been medically cleared to leave the hospital. While awaiting to talk to a representative of the psychiatric department, Clough reportedly assaulted a Clinical Patient Safety Attendant by punching him in the face without warning, Burlington Police said.
Cpl. Delgado, who also responded to the hospital call, said he took Clough into custody without incident for a charge of assault on a protected professional.
Delgado said while transporting Clough to the Burlington Police Department for processing, the prisoner was “speaking nonsensically and asked me if I had killed him.”
A normal part of arrest processing involves officers contacting the court for instructions about whether a prisoner will be jailed or released back into the community, Murad said. Judge Megan J. Shafritz instructed police to release Clough on limited conditions.
Clough was escorted outside the police station, while officers retrieved his property in order to return it to him from the Sunday incident. Sgt. Mellis, who had been inside the station when Clough was processed, finished his shift and was walking to his car in civilian clothes, police said.
Clough aggressively approached Mellis in the parking lot and attempted to assault him, including by throwing multiple punches, Murad said. Mellis was able to block the punches and eventually took Clough to the ground to detain him. Sgt. Mellis phoned the dispatch center inside the station requesting assistance from on-duty officers.
Police took the defendant Clough into custody for the third time in 24 hours and this time bail was set at $200 and he was transported to the St. Albans prison, Murad said.
Clough is believed to have a limited police record. St. Johnsbury Police reported in a March news release officers arrested Clough at the Fairbank’s Inn when they determined he had an unserved warrant in Washington County for an unspecified criminal charge.
He also has arrests for charges of leaving the scene of an accident in Winooski in April 2021 and for driving while his license was suspended in South Burlington in April 2022, records show.