Former St Albans officer pleads not guilty to simple assault charge

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A former St Albans police officer has pleaded not guilty to a charge of simple assault. Corporal Joel Daugreilh appeared in a Franklin County courtroom Tuesday, nearly 3 years after police say he pepper sprayed a man who was handcuffed in a holding cell.

“It never sat well with me,” said Attorney General TJ Donovan. “I was troubled with it from the offset.”

Daugreilh is now the 3rd officer of the St Albans Police Department with charges against him. The AG’s office originally did not press charges because an expert said the former officer’s actions were reasonable. But when a similar incident occurred in a holding cell in March of last year, with a different St Albans officer, Donovan says they needed to re-open the investigation.

“From these two cases, it’s clear that the way the St Albans Police Department would try to ensure compliance was to use force,” he said.

A second expert said Daughreilh’s actions were not reasonable, which Donovan said, prompted the charges. This also comes one day before the role of police chief changes hands in St Albans. Donovan says he’s concerned about the culture around use of force.

“We are part of a national debate in terms of policing right now and we have to be willing to be critical of our own decision making,” he said. “And to admit when we get things wrong.”

If convicted, Daugreilh faces one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. He is due back in court on August 11th.

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