BURLINGTON, Vt. – City Council met before their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday to question Mayor Miro Weinberger and Police Chief Brandon Del Pozo about their communications with state officials following the autopsy of Douglas Kilburn.
Kilburn died days after an alleged altercation with Officer Cory Campbell outside the University of Vermont Medical Center on March 11.
After being told by the chief medical examiner that Kilburn’s death was classified as a homicide, Chief del Pozo reached out to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine to question the standard used by the examiner.
Emails show Mayor Weinberger’s chief of staff reached out to Governor Phil Scott’s office on the matter, and they described it as an “energetic effort” to have the release delayed.
“It certainly raises a lot of red flags to intervene before an autopsy has been made public, especially trying to change the timing and the finding within it,” said City Councilor Max Tracy. “It’s one thing to challenge that finding after the fact, but to do so before it’s been made public raises a lot of red flags.”
Tracy asked Chief del Pozo about that decision on Monday, wondering if he’d follow the same protocol if he had another chance.
“The attempt was not to wait until it was a public sparring about matters of evidence and standards of proof,” Chief del Pozo said. “It was to say if this is how it’s going to stand and you could explain it in a way that a layperson who has a pretty good understanding could understand, then that’s that.”
Councilors had the option to go into executive session Monday evening to learn more about the details of the investigation and view body cam footage of the altercation, but City Councilor Brian Pine said that won’t help the public understand what happened.
“This is putting us in an incredibly difficult position to have us view the footage in a private executive session, have information, and then not be able to have conversations with our constituents after that,” Pine said.
The council decided not to go into executive session, and afterward, Chief del Pozo said he’s open to reviewing his department’s use of force policy.
“I think our training and our expectations of our officers have outpaced some of the things we have in writing,” Chief del Pozo said. “It’s important for some congruence and I think we benefit by opening up the process to input from the commission and the people from the city.”
Last week, the Burlington Police Officers Association sued the city for access to the body cam footage ahead of Campbell’s statement to Vermont State Police.