Burlington police were told by a judge to release a St. Johnsbury man who they say had just assaulted hospital workers. When they did, the man attacked an off-duty police officer, police say.
In response, Police Chief Jon Murad said the incident highlights the need for more holding facilities for mentally unstable suspects. The details were provided in this Burlington Police Dept. press statement issued Tuesday afternoon:
On Monday, November 6 at 7:12 PM officers were dispatched to the University of Vermont Medical Center for a report of an assault. Dispatch informed officers that a male patient in the Emergency Department assaulted a staff member and staff were actively restraining him.
When officers arrived on scene, they learned the male was Brandon Clough, 42, of Saint Johnsbury. The previous night, on Sunday, November 5, at about 9:30 PM, officers had responded to a call from a resident on King Street who reported that he had returned to his apartment to find his door’s chain lock had been set from the inside.
An unknown, uninvited person was inside his apartment. That person refused to open the door and then told the resident he was going to take a shower and did so. Police responded and entered the unit and took a naked man, identified as Clough, into custody. Clough made statements that he had unlawfully entered the apartment via a fire escape and window. Officers charged him with felony trespass and later took him to UVMMC.
On Monday night, officers responding to the assault at the hospital learned that Clough had just been medically cleared. While awaiting additional, non-medical services, he assaulted a Clinical Patient Safety Attendant by punching the CPSA in the face without warning.
Police took Clough into custody for “Assault of protected professional” without incident, and transported him to the Burlington Police Department for processing. A normal part of arrest processing involves officers contacting the court for instructions about whether an arrestee will be held or not, and a judge instructed police to release Clough from the police station on conditions.
Clough was escorted outside of the police station, while officers retrieved his property in order to return it to him from the November 5 incident. An off-duty officer, who had finished his shift and was out of uniform, was walking to his car. Clough aggressively approached the off-duty officer in the parking lot and attempted to assault him, including by throwing punches. The off-duty officer was able to take Clough to the ground and detain him, and then called dispatch requesting assistance from off-duty officers.
Clough was taken into custody for the third time and transported to the Northwest State Correctional Facility. He was ordered held on $200 bail.
“If we want proof that certain things are not working, this case presents it,” said Chief of Police Jon Murad. “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. 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. Our neighbors—people in their homes, hospital workers, police officers—they all deserve to be safe.”
See video footage of the incident. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Burlington Police Department at (802) 658-2704. – Release provided by BPD