Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan said Friday that a Burlington Police officer will not be charged for punching a man who was found dead three days later.
Douglas Kilburn, 54, of Burlington, and Officer Corey Campbell got into a fight outside University of Vermont Medical Center on March 11. Kilburn, who was injured when he exchanged punches with Campbell, was treated and released from the hospital March 12.
In declining to bring charges against Campbell, however, Donovan said the officer’s action contributed to the circumstances that led to his use of force on Kilburn.
Based on the totality of the circumstances,” Donovan said his report, “the Office concluded that it was reasonable and justified for Officer Campbell to use force to defend himself.
“It should be noted, however, that Officer Campbell’s actions in his second interaction with Mr. Kilburn, while justified under the law, did contribute to the situation in which the need for self-defense arose. “
Two days later, police found Kilburn’s body was found dead at Northgate Apartments in Burlington. An autopsy ruled Kilburn’s death a homicide. The cause was “undetermined,” according to the death certificate, although among the contributing factors was a fractured skull caused by Campbell’s punch.
Donovan has scheduled a news conference to discuss his review of the case for 12:45 p.m. Friday.
Body-cam video of the confrontation shows the incident escalated into violence after the two men swore at each other. Campbell appears to put his hands on Kilburn, who throws at least two punches at the officer before Campbell knocks him down. The video shows Kilburn on the ground, bleeding from his face, as Campbell handcuffs him.
The case has generated controversy, and not only for the circumstances in which Kilburn died. After learning the death was classified as a homicide, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo reached out to Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine to question the standard used by the medical examiner.
Emails also show that Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s office reached out to Gov. Phil Scott as part of “energetic effort” to have the release of Kilburn’s autopsy results delayed.
The case also led the Burlington Police Officers’ Association to sue the city in April to force the release of body-cam footage. In June, a judge ordered city officials, who had said the video’s relase could hamper the investigation, ruled in the union’s favor.