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Prosecutors decline to charge Burlington cop in August 2022 non-fatal shooting

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The Attorney General and top prosecutor in Chittenden County declined to file charges against a Burlington police sergeant who shot a knife-wielding man last August.

Attorney General Charity Clark and Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George will not file charges against a Burlington police sergeant who shot a knife-wielding man in the leg last August, according to a press release issued on Thursday.

The man appeared in the midst of a mental health crisis during the incident, and his public defender told a judge a few days after the shooting that Johnson suffered from serious mental health issues.

More from Vermont Public: Mental illness likely factored in recent police shootings in Vermont, continuing a long-standing pattern

According to court records, David Johnson called Burlington police on Aug. 13, 2022 and told the dispatcher to respond to an incident at Manhattan Drive. Three responded to the scene where they found Johnson outside his house holding a large kitchen knife.

Officers tried to get Johnson to drop the knife but he refused, according to body camera footage obtained by Vermont Public.

Officer Brock Marvin, who’d previously encountered Johnson, tried talking to Johnson for several minutes, asking him to drop the knife and telling him that officers could help him, the body camera footage shows.

“You’re a good man, we’re worked together before,” Marvin said, according to the video. “I need you to start by dropping it [the knife].”

During the incident, Johnson told officers that he wanted them to shoot him.

“I’m sorry Brock, I’m going to die today,” Johnson said, according to the video.

About four minutes after police arrived, Jonhson ran towards Marvin while still holding the knife, the body camera video shows. Marvin fired his taser, and Sergeant Simon Bombard fired three shots at Johnson.

According to the AG’s office, one bullet hit Marvin’s police cruiser, the second shot hit Johnson in the leg and the third bullet hit two cars, including one vehicle that was occupied by a driver.

More from Vermont Public: Video shows Vermont State Police use of force incident that led to criminal charges

Prosecutors determined Bombard’s use of force was reasonable after reviewing the investigation conducted by Vermont State Police and an independent report from Eric Daigle, a former member of Connecticut State Police and a use of force expert.

“Sgt. Bombard was faced with a split-second decision in this rapidly evolving, tense, and uncertain event, which left him with no choice but to respond with the use of deadly force,” Daigle wrote in his report.

According to the AG’s office their review found that Bombard “reasonably believed” that Marvin was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering serious injury, so Bombard was justified in his use of deadly force.

Johnson was hospitalized after the shooting and Chittenden County state’s attorney Sarah George charged him with two crimes related to the incident: aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Johnson was also charged with domestic assault for allegedly punching his mother two days before the shooting. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The criminal case against Johnson is still pending. Johnon was initially held in prison without bail after being charged, but his mental health deteriorated, court records say. He was found incompetent to stand trial, and in January was committed to the Department of Mental Health’s custody. Johnson was hospitalized for three months, and is now at a residential treatment home, according to court records.

Johnson’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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