Attorney General TJ Donovan said his office will not be filing charges against a Burlington police officer in the death of Douglas Kilburn. Kilburn’s wife, son, and many other family members were there for the announcement and disagree with the findings.
“My dad was so much more than the few seconds that changed our lives forever,” said Tyler Kilburn, Douglas’s son.
Donovan said a third party expert was called in to assist with the investigation.
“I have concluded that it was reasonable and justified for Officer Campbell to use force to defend himself,” TJ Donovan said Friday.
On March 11th, Officer Campbell was called to UVM Medical Center for reports that Kilburn was acting irate while visiting his wife. An altercation resulted in Kilburn punching the officer, who then punched Kilburn three times. Kilburn was left with fractures to his jaw and skull. He was found dead a few days later.
“He murdered my husband,” said Sherry Kilburn. “And now his life goes on, he gets to do what he wants to do.”
The medical examiner ruled the manner of death a homicide. While Donovan will not prosecute, he acknowledged Officer Campbell’s behavior and even swearing toward Kilburn contributed to the situation.
“His use of foul language, and antagonistic behavior did not de-escalate the situation which ultimately put himself in a situation where he had to defend himself,” Donovan said.
Burlington police chief Brandon del Pozo said while he agrees with the AG’s findings, the department will continue teaching de-escalation techniques.
“It’s unexpected for the use of a curse word to result in an assault on a police officer,” he said. “And I think officers will be mindful of that and our de-escalation training will reflect that.”
Tyler Kilburn said his dad struggled with his mental health after suffering multiple strokes. He describes him as an avid sports fan and musician who loved his family. Now he’s begging the department to do better.
“My dad needed help, not handcuffs,” Tyler Kilburn said.
“Something needs to be done to him,” Sherry Kilburn said. “He needs to be charged with something.”
Officer Campbell has been on administrative duties since the investigation began. Burlington police said he will return to full work after an internal investigation within the department.