Burlington death investigation sparks city, state dispute

Local News

It seems Burlington city leaders wanted to hold off on releasing the autopsy results of Douglas Kilburn who was found dead, police say days after he was punched and subdued by a city cop.

At issue is the manner, and cause of death. Police Chief Brandon del Pozo questioned the Health Department on the “homicide” ruling.

Emails show Mayor Miro Weinberger’s chief of staff reached out to the governor’s office on the matter who described it as an energetic effort to have the release delayed. 

“If death certificates were these simple ironclad things forensic pathologists would be out of business and there would be no TV shows,” said del Pozo.

In one email to members of Scott’s administration, Public Safety Commissioner Tom Anderson appeared frustrated writing, “We have had to repeatedly advise del Pozo that he has recused his department from the investigation.”

“For him now to again be inserting himself in this matter is very troubling,” he continued.

The chief said it came down to checks and balances, “You know there is always some leeway for asking questions and we have a responsibility here in Burlington to make sure if something impacts our city, our community and our police department that its done right and that we understand that it’s done right.”

Del Pozo questioned the standard used by the medical examiner. That’s why he says he reached out to Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

“We’re kind of in a mode of always asking each other questions about things and trying to learn from each other,” said Levine.

 He says this is the first time he’s experienced such questioning by law enforcement, ”It wasn’t like he was directly putting pressure on me to change it or to sort of go down the chain of command and say this needs to change, I never got that impression what so ever.”

The report was released hours after the request came in from the mayor’s office after the governor’s chief of staff wrote in an email that it did not feel right to intervene.

The chief medical examiner did not determine a cause of death, saying there may have been a number of contributing factors including heart disease, diabetes or skull factors he suffered during the altercation with police.

“I have no reason to even question any of the opinions that would come out of the office or any of the decisions that would come out of the office,” said Levine.

Vermont State Police continue to investigate Kilburn’s death.

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