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Boardman writes: "Nobody said it would be easy to get justice for a dead man, especially a poor dead man, especially a poor dead artist with epilepsy who was tasered to death by a Vermont State Trooper."

MacAdam Lee Mason. (photo: Mason Family/Seven Days Vt.)
MacAdam Lee Mason. (photo: Mason Family/Seven Days Vt.)

Taser Death Still Festers in Vermont

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

31 January 13


AG uses secret reports, public evasions to justify non-prosecution.

hen the Attorney General of Vermont decided not to prosecute a Vermont State trooper who used a taser to kill an unarmed, 39-year-old epileptic artist, few Vermonters were surprised, most of the Vermont media managed to get the story partly wrong - and none of the media took note of clear falsification in the AG's press release describing his decision.

AG William Sorrell, 65, issued a carefully-written release on Friday, January 25th, announcing that "criminal charges should not be filed" against Trooper David Shaffer, 29, who used his taser to kill MacAdam Mason, 39, on June 20, 2012, at his home in Thetford. Sorrell's press release indicated that he and a county prosecutor had "completed independent reviews" of the fatal "incident," but it did not explain their conclusion beyond saying, in summary:

"The review was solely to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued against Trooper David Shaffer.... In a criminal case, the State bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer's use of force was unreasonable under the facts and circumstances of the case."

In other words, the prosecutors seem to imply, the trooper may or may not be actually guilty, but they don't think they have enough evidence to make a conviction a sure thing. But they do not explain why they think that.

Although the "reviews" were done by the prosecutors' separate offices, the actual investigation of the Vermont State trooper was done by the Vermont State Police itself. There has been no independent investigation by any other official entity.

No Formal Finding of "Reasonable Fear for Safety"

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell. (photo: New Market Press)Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
(photo: New Market Press)

The press release noted that, under Vermont law, the killing might be justified if the officer was found to be in reasonable fear for his safety or the safety of others. The release is clear that neither prosecutor has formally made that finding, only that they have agreed that they would have a hard time proving that the use of force was unreasonable under the circumstances.

Most of the release goes on to give the Attorney General's version of the events of June 20, 2012, an account that is largely consistent with the public record, but with significant omissions that contribute to the creation of an overall false impression.

Although previous reports by the State Police and media refer to only one phone call, the report describes the start of the chain of events leading to Mason's death this way:

"The [State Police] investigation determined that after 3:00 pm on June 20, 2012, the Vermont State Police barracks in Bradford received two calls from personnel at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center requesting a welfare check at an address in Thetford, Vermont. Dispatch was told that an unidentified male at the address, who sounded intoxicated, had stated that he was suicidal and homicidal, that he had access to weapons and that he hoped the police would shoot him."

To date, the caller or callers from the hospital have not been publicly identified and transcripts of the call or calls have not been made public. The initial State Police "press statement" on June 21 indicated a single phone call from an "Intake Crisis Technician" at 1511 hours - but made no reference to "a welfare check" or to Mason's expressing any hope the police would shoot him. Since the Attorney General's report itself is still secret, it's hard to know where those variations come from, but they do tend to denigrate the victim to the benefit of the police who killed him.

Unidentified Troopers Told to Leave Premises

The press release goes on to describe unidentified "troopers" finding Mason inside his house, where he refused to come out or to let them in. The police then contacted the homeowner, Mason's life partner, Theresa Davidonis, who came promptly to the scene. She found the house empty, but found Mason in the woods behind the house, where she talked with him for awhile, or as the press release characterizes it:

"Ms. Davidonis subsequently found the unidentified male - MacAdam Mason - in the woods near the house and could be heard arguing with him. Ms. Davidonis asked the troopers to leave because she said that their presence was aggravating Mason. She also said that she would take custody of Mason."

The troopers then left. Although the press release doesn't describe the troopers' interaction with Ms. Davidonis any further, one might assume that as a matter of professional competence, they would have completed their "welfare check" in some fashion before leaving. In any event, they had been implicitly if not explicitly reassured as to Mason's welfare. Additionally, they knew they had been asked to leave private property, they knew they had no indication of criminal activity, and they had no warrant.

Nevertheless, after Ms. Davidonis left to go back to work, the troopers surreptitiously returned to the property some time later. These events were developing slowly, more than three hours would pass from the initial hospital phone call to the fatal tasering.

The AG's press release omits any timeline, allowing a reader to get the impression that events happened quickly, without time for thoughtful action. Whether deliberate or not, this is a false impression.

Motivation of Troopers' Return Is Unexplained

MacAdam Mason with his life partner, Theresa Davidonis. (photo: Mason Family)MacAdam Mason with his life partner, Theresa Davidonis.
(photo: Mason Family)

When the troopers left the property, they had no apparent reason to think Mason was anything but all right, according to the AG's press release, which goes on:

"After the troopers left her home she [Ms. Davidonis] went back to work. In light of the requested welfare check and the information provided, the troopers returned to the residence to personally confirm that Mason was okay. Trooper David Shaffer was directed to assist with setting up a perimeter in the woods near the house. Tpr. Shaffer was not aware of reports that Mason had a history of seizures."

This account not only fails to explain why the troopers thought they needed to trespass on Ms. Davidonis's property against her expressed will, it fails to explain why they thought they should take a quasi-military approach to an apparently peaceful situation by setting up "a perimeter" around the house - especially when they had reason to know there was a possibility Mason was still in the woods. And they had been told that their presence was "aggravating him."

The press release does not say what else Ms. Davidonis told them, but if the troopers acted with reasonable professionalism, they had learned the basic outline of Mason's condition: that he was epileptic, that he had had a seizure the night before, that his present state of mind was part of a pattern familiar to Ms. Davidonis.

The rest of the official press release creates the utterly false impression that Trooper Shaffer and Mason were in a one-on-one face-off with no one else around. The release says that Shaffer realized that Mason was unarmed and, in reaction, shouldered his M-4 rifle, but that Mason moved toward him and that he "told investigators that he believed that Mason was going to physically assault him...."

AG Press Release Riddled With Misleading Omissions

The press release does not mention that there were at least three other State Police troopers and a police dog on the scene at point, and that one or more of the troopers witnessed the killing.

The press release does not mention that Ms. Davidonis had returned to the scene with her son, and that they both witnessed the killing.

The press release does not mention that Ms. Davidonis shouted warnings that Mason was in a vulnerable condition.

The press release does not mention that the autopsy, which was performed in New Hampshire, attributed the cause of death to the taser. The autopsy report remains secret.

The press release does not address the question of why, when there was no identifiable emergency, at least four troopers and a police dog decided they needed to enter property they'd been told to stay off, and then created a situation in which one of them killed an unarmed man over the shouted warnings of Ms. Davidonis.

Most of the state's media coverage omits most of these details, generally reporting - inaccurately - that the Attorney General had determined that the police behaved appropriately, which is not what the press release says, although William Sorrell apparently said something to that effect in a news conference. Here are some of the ways some of the media misinformed their audiences - each is wrong:

  • "Deadly Force Justified in Stun Gun Death" - Vermont Public Radio
  • "Vermont Attorney General Clears State Trooper in Thetford Taser Death" - Seven Days
  • "A state trooper was justified in using force ..." - Associated Press
  • "Attorney General: Trooper justified in firing Taser at man who later died" - Burlington Free Press
  • "Sorrell says trooper had good reason to fire Taser at MacAdam Mason ..." -
  • "Vt. AG Clears State Trooper of Criminal Wrongdoing in Taser-Induced Death of Thetford Man" - Valley News

No Public Statement on Negligence or Reprimand

MacAdam Mason and his mother, Rhonda Taylor. (photo: Mason Family)MacAdam Mason and his mother, Rhonda Taylor.
(photo: Mason Family)

Getting it right was WCAX-TV, with the headline, "AG: trooper will not face charges in taser death" and further clarification in its story: "Sorrell repeatedly stressed that Shaffer's actions were not criminal, but he wouldn't say if he acted negligently or if he's been reprimanded by state police. Those internal investigations are secret."

Trooper Shaffer remains on paid administrative leave, as he has been for most of the time since Mason's death.

Perhaps the most extreme misrepresentation of the events of June 20th came from the State Police, when Col. Tom L'Esperance, director of the State Police, said, "The actions of our troopers helped protect citizens in a highly dangerous and life-threatening event." This does not square with the reality in Thetford that day, when the only person seriously threatened was the one the police killed.

Last July, Ms. Davidonis filed a civil suit in the Superior Court in Orange County, where she lives, seeking unspecified damages for police conduct that her complaint calls "malicious, wanton, willful, and outrageous." That case is pending. In mid-January, Superior Judge Timothy Tomasi gave the Attorney General's office two weeks to explain its investigation into Trooper Shaffer's actions.

Responding to the AG's press release on January 25th, Ms. Davidonis's attorney, Thomas Costello told the Valley News:

"History of seizures or not, they were up there for hours before it happened. Theresa told them he was emotionally disturbed.... The crisis was created by Shaffer going onto their property, contrary to Theresa's commands and what the police had been doing for two hours. There is violence and there is a shooting and there is a death. Who is doing the shooting? Law enforcement. An emotionally disturbed person is killed by violence by law enforcement. That demands leadership."

On the same day, attorney Edward Van Dorn announced that he would be filing a federal lawsuit seeking monetary damages from the State Police on behalf of Mason's mother, Rhonda Taylor, who lives in New Hampshire. The attorney indicated that the state's withholding of so much evidence made the suit necessary.

ACLU Questions State's Commitment to Justice

Among those questioning AG Sorrell's willingness to ever bring an enforcement action against a Vermont police officer involved in a lethal event, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Vermont, Allen Gilbert, commented that "It's hard to know when, if ever, criminal charges might be brought in a law enforcement shooting death." The ACLU issued a statement signed by Gilbert, saying in part:

"The Vermont Attorney General's Office has declined to bring any charges in the fatal MacAdam Mason Taser shooting last June, leaving open the question of who bears responsibility for the death of an innocent Vermonter. The stark facts of the case are these: A state trooper fired a weapon that killed a man. The weapon was used in a way contrary to guidelines from the weapon's manufacturer, Taser International....

"We will continue to work on ways to bring about greater police accountability. We support the establishment of a professional licensing system for police, as there is for most other Vermont professions. Both the public and police suffer when officers' conduct is not reviewed by an independent state board that makes sure all officers are aware of and meet professional standards."

Soon after Mason's taser death, the ACLU, Vermont Legal Aid, mental health advocacy groups, and others called for a state moratorium on tasers at least until all police armed with tasers were fully trained in appropriate taser use. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, together with Attorney General Sorrell and state police officials, all rejected the idea of a moratorium out of hand, without giving it much deliberation. An online petition supporting a moratorium had 1,217 signatures as of January 29th, including that of former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin, also a Democrat.

Nobody said it would be easy to get justice for a dead man, especially a poor dead man, especially a poor dead artist with epilepsy who was tasered to death by a Vermont State Trooper in June 2012, but, at least Vermont's Governor, Vermont's Attorney General, and the Vermont State Police are helping to make it harder than it should be.

William Boardman runs Panther Productions.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+81 # Activista 2013-01-31 20:52
Yesterday I witnessed assault by the local "PIZZA" owner on a young male walking with his female friend in front of my house. Man (Pizza) owner drove on the sidewalk, jumped out of the car ... screaming obscenities, moving/threaten ing the young man (21 year old) ... women was scared - called police ..
I made the voluntary SHORT statement what I witnessed.
When the next local cop came (friend of the Pizza businessman - he screamed at anybody who spoke against assailant that he will arrest them - scary cop on power trip - it irritated him that I was not scared at him ... he was scared of my dogs - quite interesting dynamics.
One should recognize where some of these cops came from - veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan where they could shoot with impunity. These psychopath are now back in the USA on the street - as police.
+31 # readerz 2013-01-31 23:45
Police and also security guards... creating a very unfriendly atmosphere at the very least in many businesses.
-8 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 14:18
Read the numbers of how many American veterans were killed by criminals in "safe" America vs. by official enemies in "dangerous" Afghanistan, and you'd understand they might have reason for acting that way.
+1 # mikeandnettie 2013-02-04 09:56
Just like the later anti Vietnam war demos when we had to deal with crazed soldiers-turned -cops. Amazing more of us weren't killed. Nothing has changed.
+29 # WestWinds 2013-01-31 22:55
I don't understand why anyone should be upset or concerned about this. We have all sat back and allowed this country to become a military-police state. It's just another normal day in America.
-17 # DaveM 2013-01-31 22:55
This problem (a grave understatement) is not going to be solved by "the system". It can be brought to an abrupt halt by a simple action on the part of the community. Simply make it known throughout the community that if things like this happen, "something bad" will happen to a law enforcement officer in the same area. And make sure it does.

Individuals who are armed and placed above the law lose their capacity for respect. The nearest thing to respect that can be taught is fear. Once law enforcement develops a healthy degree of fear of consequences for inappropriate actions, they just might start protecting people instead of victimizing them.
+33 # Bob P 2013-02-01 08:37
Frustrating and wrong--Yes!! I pray for a better solution than vigilante violence.
-27 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:28
Better would be for criminals to develop a healthy degree of fear for consequences! Maybe crime would reduce, and only the hardened criminals would dare go out, and then when one of those got killed, people could say, "Good Riddance", instead of "Aw, criminal died!"
-2 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 21:34
So your idea is to threaten cops, essentially be a lowbudget Mafia?
I think this idea would be better used against criminals. "Something bad will happen to you if you keep robbing us" kind of thing.
+1 # EPGAH3 2013-02-03 08:15
Bizarro News Update:
MEXICO is developing squads of vigilantes that are hunting and killing cartel members and other drug-thugs. They have been able to bring order in 15 DAYS where the Mexican Government couldn't in 15 YEARS!
+38 # maddave 2013-01-31 23:47
To my knowledge there is not one jerkwater podunk in the USA that lacks a para-military SWAT team. If there is, it's not because the U S Government - LEAA, etc - has not been funding everything from military uniforms to combat tanks, helicopters and APC for arming people who have absolutely NO credible USE for suce equipment . . . unless it is to intimidate, run-over and/or kill WE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS.

This thing of local police using deadly force on unarmed and distressed civilians is epidemi, and rarely is there any countability demanded (or responsibility taken) by our elected or spiritual leaders . . . and God forbid that the local news media might put honest investigative reporters on these cases.

This is not an isolated case, folks. and we are on a slope that, if we do not stop this trend, will drop us down into a military-fascis t world similar to that which flourished in Germany, Italy & Spain during the the late 1930'.

Speak the truth loudly and clearly so that others may hear and join you!
+18 # geneBee 2013-02-01 00:12
Very very very sad .
+25 # Phlippinout 2013-02-01 00:33
So sorry for his friends and family. Its a hard struggle when so many people think that cops are really here to help. There have been so many bad cops that I can no longer remember many good ones. Too many stories of dogs and unarmed males being killed by police and no one says a thing. Its total bull crap! No wonder our society is going down the crapper. I am happiest when i have no dealings with thug cops. You can never win against the morally corrupt. In the US its ok for cops to kill and be violent. We pay for thugs to roam our streets and kill innocent people or troubled people. Its time to train peace officers and get the SWAT creeps out of our neighborhoods. Have you ever seen what lousy shots they are? After opening fire in neighborhoods bullets are everywhere. They do everything you learn not to do in gun safety classes and that is wrong. Maybe if cops were held responsible for where their bullets go, like the rest of us, they would aim a little better. Is it too much to ask for police who have some people skills and not just thugs?
+30 # nancyw 2013-02-01 02:30
The militarism of our police departments are frightening and lethal. Rather than being able to trust them to help, we need to be vigilant that they will not suddenly explode with unwarranted rage and violence from post traumatic stress. Recently in Vallejo, Ca. A police struck and violated the Victim of an assault when the obvious trauma of the victim began to get upset. Rather than help him calm down the policeman yelled that he was a US Marine and no one talks to him that way! US Marine? No... He was a policeman... But obviously he got confused, switched to another Incompleted era in his life and went off. No more soldiers should be allowed to be policemen. They perceive too much as a threat, their old terror spikes up and they lose it. Not trustworthy to be a police in service of the public.
-19 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:30
Maybe we should let ex-military loose in areas where criminals are well-entrenched , dug-in, and no longer fear normal cops.
I.e., the areas where inner-city terrorists have already created our own warzones?
+7 # Activista 2013-02-02 22:07
Nancy - you repeat in principle the scenario I witnessed - he almost wanted to create the scene so he could use the weapon or "resist to arrest" excuse.
+23 # cmp 2013-02-01 04:00
Since 2009, their has been 184 Police Taser deaths in the US.

Of the 184, we know the race of 156 of them:

49% of those killed by Police Tasers in the US, were Black.

The upshot of it is, Blacks only comprise of 13% of the overall population.

A Black person is almost 8 times more likely to be killed by a Police Taser in the US than a White person. And, a Black person is almost 4 times more likely to be killed by a Police Taser than a Hispanic.

These are deaths. I wonder what the overall electrocutions / Police Taser occurrences are on American Citizens?
-34 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:26
Will you not be satisfied until cops can ONLY write tickets?
"Help! This man is raping my wife, robbing my house, etc."
"I'll write him a ticket, that'll show him!

Honestly, I would prefer we didn't have or need cops, but until either everyone is strong enough mentally and physically to defend themselves, or criminals just stay home of their own accord, that's not going to happen. There will always be pacifists who refuse to lift a finger or pull the trigger in their own defense, so they need to be protected.

Or are they "Acceptable Losses"?
Would you prefer to return to a "Stronger are MEANT to Prey Upon The Weaker" system? In which case, thugs, of whatever color, would disrupt, if not execute, honest people instead.
+9 # cmp 2013-02-01 11:35
I would be satisfied with a productive conversation based on all the attainable facts that we can gather.

You're right! The Caveman and his club didn't necessarily need a mailbox, cop, judges, an auto mechanic mechanic, etc.. But, as a society, I would have to say, "things are a little more complex than that, now."

Obviously, the (facts / data) tells us that we could use a little broadening of our conversation if we would care to live as a collective society of one.

I didn't give any opinion. I only had the willingness to ask myself some questions and do some very rough calculations after reading the document. I looked at it some some other ways too that I also thought were pretty interesting.

I do have another question now though. Who should we start with first for those, "acceptable losses?"

I know that we as a society are much smarter and stronger than if we were going to rough it alone. But, I also acknowledge that in a complex society we must also ask a lot more questions of ourselves and discuss 'em. So we don't have one foot capable of stepping on the moon and one foot still in that cave..
-6 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 21:42
I believe criminals are the acceptable losses, we will never colonize the moon if we waste these BILLIONS--with a B--taking care of the deadweight.

I realize the necessity for specialization, but you must realize the Police Caste are part of that as well, otherwise, only the strong and well-armed would defend themselves, and the rest would be at the mercy of the scum. If everyone could defend themselves as well as perform their primary duties, cops would no longer be necessary. There are a FEW pedestrians who beat up their attackers, shopkeepers who shoot the scum attacking them, but those are the EXCEPTION, rather than the rule. There are even a few who intervene on someone ELSE'S behalf, but that turns out even worse. Look up the McHero for arguably the worst example.
+4 # Jay Warren Clark 2013-02-02 18:21
Complete disconnect. JWC
+25 # kalpal 2013-02-01 07:14
The state has nearly always protected its own miscreants much like the RCC protected and enabled its pedophile priests. As usual the victim was deemed unworthy of consideration and protection.
+28 # Glen 2013-02-01 07:38
Activista, I have witnessed similar, even in the past. Korean veterans came home to take jobs as police and were as brutal as anything you will see today, holding even witnesses or ill petty criminals in the "wagon" driving them around all day, with no food or water, before taking them to the station or jail. In Birmingham Alabama they held contests to cover who could shoot the most people. One of those people was a little boy accompanying his older brother and his friends in stealing money from a drugstore. That little boy lived the rest of his life with one quarter of his head missing, amazingly alive. Nobody was ever punished for these crimes.

In a number of cities, folks are actually more afraid of the cops than they are the bad guys. The taser came along and made it worse. The anger among veterans, even those who are not, is understandable but does NOT qualify them for a job in law enforcement. The determination to hire returning veterans to compensate their service is misguided and dangerous.
-9 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:32
He accompanied thugs stealing money from a drugstore for what reason? Sightseeing? More likely, on-the-job training to be a thief when he grew up. Does noone care about the livelihood of the drugstore owner? Or does he/she somehow "deserve" it for daring to open a store in that neighborhood?

Think about it: Bad neighborhoods are an "ecology" of sorts, and when the predators overhunt useful stores, they can no longer make a profit and leave. Maybe they open somewhere else, maybe just give up and become someone else's employee instead. Sometimes they catch the bad guy, but it sues them. Win or lose, the store has to pay to stop the LAW from rewarding the thief!

Liquour stores and pawnshops become the only things that can survive in an environment like that, and people blame them for somehow "corrupting" the neighborhood, confusing cause and effect. Pawnshops sometimes double as "fences" which reduces the amount people will steal from them, and the owners are often rough&tumble types themselves, and even the worst thug USUALLY avoids fighting in liquour stores to avoid spilling a drop of the Blessed Potations!
These are advantages that department stores, grocery stores, even fast-food and convenience stores don't have!
+8 # Glen 2013-02-02 07:35
I understand your thinking EPGAH3, but the incident I posted was a 6 year old running away, not stealing or attacking the officer. The oldest kid was 15. All minors, no weapons, and no way of knowing exactly why they were stealing. Nobody posting here is ignoring the owners of the businesses, but are concentrating on brutal cops, who are, more often than not, just as brutal with innocent citizens as they are criminals. In some instances I would say that brutality created NEW criminals retaliating against the system.

And as I say, the taser made it worse.
-5 # EPGAH3 2013-02-02 20:39
Ah, the old "Cops Created Criminals" excuse.
The fact that they were stealing should overwhelm that they were minors. Did the parents face any responsibility?

I find it odd you complain about the Tazer, which if anything, REDUCES lethality of the cops. A gun would cause property damage and/or kill the criminal, depending on aim and backstop. Yes, they COULD go for a disable shot instead of a killshot, but the chances of missing are even higher when you don't aim for center-of-mass, making those foolishly risky trick shots best remanded to movies and videogames.

If people don't want cops, they either need to stop denying that THEIR kids are the ones doing these crimes and correct and stop this behavior(Lotsa luck), or let people fight back against their own criminals, without having to separate into a special Cop Caste.

So far, anyone who fights back is charged with a crime themselves! (Media circus optional)
Big names include:
Joe Horn
Bernard Goetz (How many thugs do you need to be jumped by before it becomes self-defense?)
+5 # Glen 2013-02-03 08:34
You are mistaking the subject here. The subject is not how many criminals there are, and what they are doing - we are all aware of those criminals. We are discussing cop brutality. There are plenty of good cops out there, but there are also extremely brutal cops out there. Unnecessarily brutal on folks who don't deserve it - just as the man in this article, the grandmother stopped for a driving incident, an innocent kid who ran away from his friends, who were pulled over and who had also done nothing, the guy on the bike riding past a roadblock, and so many more.


And a good cop does NOT shoot a six year old kid in the head while the little guy is running away.
0 # EPGAH3 2013-02-04 18:33
I still blame the families of the criminals. Who lets a 6-year-old go with a group of thieves?

I'm sorry, but I've seen the cops who are all carrot, no stick. They're INCREDIBLY ineffective at stopping crime.

If criminals can think some rudimentary form of risk-reward formula, then they'll think, "OMG, only pain and death await criminals!" and rethink their career options, OR if they're too far mentally gone to think of things like that, then Darwin's Will Be Done.
Always remember Chris Rock's "advice": If you don't want your ass beat by a cop, don't fight the cops!
+15 # Activista 2013-02-01 13:10
Glen - again I came from the totalitarian country/police state - one of my principle is NOT to be afraid.
The police here is NOT only brutal - but extremely corrupt. Tried to challenge this through the courts - it is the same system - police state.
$100 ticket for well socialized/trai ned dog walking on the trail at heel (nobody else was there). Police putting non-parking signs AFTER cars were parked there and than writing parking tickets?
Yes - the police is targeting OLD cars, poor people, homeless people ... it is old story ... Les Misérables by Victor Hugo ...Jean Valjean, after spending nineteen years in jail and in the galleys for stealing a loaf of bread ..
Sad thing is that many "towns" look at the police as revenue generator ... go to court hearing ... you will see there 90% of poor ... rich people get off by paying lawyer.
+11 # NAVYVET 2013-02-01 15:31
To Activista: We have always had bullying police. I remember a very icy, snowy Sunday in the 1970s when we were driving our old VW Bug back from church with our 8-year-old son and one of his neighbor pals in the back seat. Everyone was seatbelted, my husband was driving very slow in 2nd gear because ice was covered by snow. A cop with a flasher pulled us over. "Hey," I said, "Maybe he's going to thank you for driving slow." Instead he gave him a ticket for SPEEDING! My indignant husband wouldn't pay, and we went to court together, but (being the wife) my testimony counted for nothing. My husband was a safe driver, he'd never before had a speeding ticket--but he underwent the humiliation of having to attend 4 weeks of driver "retraining" by an incompetent cop, plus an additional fine for coming to court. A few years later, coming home from work on another snowy day, I was stopped at a stop light after two reckless drivers had raced through it. I got the ticket! We decided it was pointless to fight it. These incidents occurred in the South, but happen everywhere cops are assigned a minimum quota of tickets per day. On snow days they don't want to chase, and ticket anyone available--caut ious drivers and people halted at stop lights and stop signs.
+8 # Activista 2013-02-01 22:19
I had similar experience - driving VW bug in 1969 in Chicago ... to night work (2 jobs and school between). Put to prison .. my roommate was a guy screaming that he did not kill somebody.
My wife had to leave the baby and bail me out ...
One "nice" thing was that next time I gave the cop $20 ... only in Amerika.
+8 # Glen 2013-02-01 15:53
You are correct in your views of the U.S. and the policing system. I had friends in California who had spent 10 years in Ethiopia and, upon arriving back in the U.S., were shocked at the change in policing. They were old enough to remember the influence the Germans had on the U.S., which was also true of the Soviets - and declared the military type uniforms of the police were emulating the Germans. (We all know kindergarten is of German origins as well.) Of course now, the police are emulating the U.S. military.

The police have for many years set traps for people in towns and cities, to the point of setting stop lights to catch folks, and writing tickets with false testimony concerning what speed the driver was going. All revenue, and I have been victim, myself.
+3 # mjc 2013-02-02 12:12
Lord have mercy!
+26 # beachboy 2013-02-01 07:55
This is outrageous !!! Unprofessional, criminal, disobedient, dumb, insensitive... Screaming for penalties: for the 4 aggressive, trespassing troopers, especially the criminal shooter David Shaffer, the corrupt, hopeless director-of-pol ice Tom L'Esperance, and the corrupt AG William Sorrell ! ...and I thought this kind of stuff happens only in the deep south. Vermonters, speak up loudly!
+14 # cmp 2013-02-01 08:27
I also, wonder what the numbers would look like if we could break 'em down by social economic status?
+13 # jjj 2013-02-01 09:03
This is a grim and horrible story. It used to be that at least some individuals went into police work to help people and in service to the community. I'm sure that some still do but unfortunately it also attracts those who thrive on power trips and dominance and cruelty. The balance is tipping- there are more of the psychotic , fewer of the reasonable ones and the reasonable ones dare not speak up.
+20 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-02-01 09:25
Briefly: An innocent, needy, disabled man was without cause & deliberately tortured to death by electrocution; & the brutal murderer walks free, only because he’s a cop.
+7 # Jay Warren Clark 2013-02-02 18:24
Two systems of justice. One for cops and the 1%, and another for the rest of us. JWC
+18 # Edwina 2013-02-01 10:01
The police have extraordinary powers in this country. We need a check on these powers, like an independent police review board, not a system where law enforcement investigates itself.
+15 # Yopeace 2013-02-01 10:15
As a community we look to our police as officers of the peace;sometimes our police need input from us. Here is an opportunity to speak up as a community:

The NH Chiefs of Police are raising money for police cadet camp with a raffle that gives away a gun a day in the month of May. The first listed gun prize is a Ruger SR-556C, a semiautomatic weapon. The NH Chiefs have received an offer from a concerned citizen's group to buy out the raffle, covering the price of all tickets sold, and a jeweler is willing to used the melted guns to create items to benefit victims of gun violence. Ask the NH Chiefs to take the win/win/win option and save lives.

That's why we created a petition to Chief Paul Donovan, President of NH Chiefs of Police, which says:

"Give up the gun giveaway and accept the offer of a buyback of all of the raffle tickets."
-28 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 10:17
Sounds like he wanted to be killed by cops, he got his wish?
+3 # God Dont Like Ugly 2013-02-03 16:20
Quoting EPGAH3:
Sounds like he wanted to be killed by cops, he got his wish?

EPGAH3 you have obviously have no experience with epileptics, and, not a shred of compassion.

An epileptic may be mentally disoriented after even a petit mal (short "blanking") seizure, let alone a grand mal (major physical and mental trauma that can last for many, many hours), and have no idea of what they are saying or doing.

Most police do have some basic first-aid training, but they are sorely lacking in special-needs situations.

I once had an officer threaten to arrest my epileptic husband while he was lying on the floor *in our home* bleeding from a head-wound after falling during a seizure, because he couldn't tell the officer his name. The officers responded first to the 911 call for an ambulance.

My husband couldn't even speak at the time because his brain was still trying to recover from the massive "electrical short-circuit" of the grand mal. All he could do was start crying and hold out his hands for the 'cuffs. He wasn't resisting or threatening the officer, he just *could not* comply with the officer's command.

At the risk of this comment not being posted by the RSN moderators, I'm going to say to you, "Take your ignorance and post it somewhere else. You sicken and disgust those of us who love and care for people with 'special needs' medical conditions."
+15 # reiverpacific 2013-02-01 11:14
Good example once again of the failure of the US non-healthcare non-system and a safety net of mental healthcare for people like the subject. The police should have some degree of mental health care training and crisis management as other country's police do.
Mind you I'd hate to be a cop in this country where every nutter with a grudge is likely to have a lethal weapon (thanks NRA) and a speeding violation can end up in a fatal encounter.
It's all part of a nasty circle of elitism and yes, classism bred by a society in which the poor are not even recognized and the poor and unbalanced are consigned to the margins as unwanted trash blowing about in the street.
I have a good (poor) musician friend who fell into a newly dug ditch walking home from a bar (not drunk) and staggered out into the road bewildered, was reported by a passing driver who almost hit him and subsequently taken to jail for the night by the cops although he didn't blow a blood alcohol content on the wee tube.
He subsequently received 9 days in jail for falling into a ditch in the dark (I forget the "official" nomenclature of the sentence.
Point is, if that had been one of the local elites or a "respectable" resident of the area, the cop would probably have offered them a ride home. If they sat outside a nearby country club (I used to be a member) they could make their "quota" every night at closing but they tend to entrap and harass the poorer demographic.
Go figure.
+9 # Phlippinout 2013-02-01 13:36
Its because they are bullies and thats the kind of folks who join the force, we occasionally get a real jewel of a cop but they dont last.
-5 # EPGAH3 2013-02-01 21:38
Actually, cops sometimes throw homeless in jail as a FAVOR, 3 hots and a cot, and a ceiling to protect against elements. Or we could let them stay out, get pneumonia and die.
Pneumonia, though, is a very nasty way to go. As much as I believe in Darwin, I do NOT believe in unnecessary cruelty.
+7 # Activista 2013-02-02 22:14
I noticed that since the prisons were PRIVATIZED - they are arresting more and more harmless people. And there are many examples of police - jail - judge syndicates to MAXIMIZE the profit.
+13 # WBoardman 2013-02-01 15:13
There is NO reliable evidence that
Macadam Mason wanted anyone to kill him.

The suicide hotline people are anonymous still.

There is no public transcript or recording
of Mason't call or calls to the hospital.

The original state police press statement (6.21.12)
mentions the phone call, but does NOT say or imply
that Mason said he wanted to be shot.

As far as the public record goes, this claim
was introduced by the AG in his press release (1.25.13)
without any substantiation.

Given this history, together with the nasty, self-serving
nature of the claim, it is highly suspect
and should not be believed without reliable corroboration.
+7 # listentome 2013-02-02 10:22
while Vt votes in progressive politicians, it maintains a lawlessness, familiar in the wild west times. My Summers are spent there, and arson is very common, never finding the culprit, at least in my Kingdom area. Not even a lead to homes being burned and my friend's barn gone from arson. Towns pay state troopers to do their investigations. That is why the troopers act as vigilantes. And why the maddened farmer in Orleans county took his tractor and flattened all the troopers cars while in their parking lot. He was considered a hero by public response. Major law enforcement investigation and changes needed in Vt. No wonder the victim was terrorized when he just saw the trooper who returned to kill him.

State is constant, but ineffective at pot field searches, however.

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