BURLINGTON — The head of the American Civil Liberties Union in Vermont wants a grand jury to review the fatal police shooting of a Burlington man last week.
Wayne Brunette was shot by police Nov. 7 as he brandished a long-handled spade shovel and advanced toward officers, despite being told repeatedly to drop the tool.
Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU in Vermont, told the Burlington Free Press “there is no standard statewide police protocol on when a Vermont law enforcement officer can pull a gun from his or her holster, unshoulder an assault rifle, or reach for a Taser and use it to shoot someone.”
Gilbert said that prosecutors “have been loath” to call a grand jury to let citizens review police conduct.
Michael Schirling, chief of the Burlington Police Department, which is doing an internal investigation of the shooting, has said officers are trained to recognize that items such as a baseball bat or shovel are potentially deadly weapons.
Brunette, a longtime Burlington resident, was shot by Burlington Police Cpl. Ethan Thibault, a 12-year veteran. Thibault fired multiple shots, state police said, but police did not say exactly how many were fired or how many times Brunette was hit.
Brunette reportedly had a history of unspecified mental illness.
Vermont State Police have launched a criminal investigation into the shooting.
Police investigators did not respond to requests for comment.
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