Driver Shot After Leading Police on High-Speed Chase

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(Host) A Vermont state police trooper shot and wounded a driver Tuesday morning on Interstate 89 near Bethel after the man led police on a dangerous high speed chase.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) State police say that Corporal Paul Gauthier shot 40 year old James Millett after Millett tried to back his vehicle into the police officer.

The shooting came at the end of a hazardous high speed chase that began after a motorist reported that Millett was assaulting a female passenger. The chase reached speed of 100 miles an hour and ended when Millett tried to make a U-turn on the interstate. State Police Captain William Pettengill described what happened next.

(Pettengill) “The accused then cut the vehicle hard into the path of the corporal who had to take evasive action but was having trouble with traction himself. The corporal, feeling that his personal safety was at risk, did discharge his service pistol three times.”

(Dillon) Pettengill says Gauthier, who is a firearms instructor, was worried about hitting the passenger in the vehicle. The woman, whose name was not released, was not hurt in the shooting.

Millett, whose last known address is the state prison in Newport, faces several charges, including aggravated assault on a police officer. He’s being treated at Dartmouth Hitchock Medical Center.

Bethel Commander Ray Keefe says state police sometimes call off a high speed chase for safety reasons. In this case he says it seems the chase was necessary. Officers also say it appears Millet was trying to use his car to force others into the path of the pursuing police cruiser.

(Keefe) “Remember the call the trooper answered. This is a Connecticut vehicle with a passenger being punched, driven down the road. And then the passenger’s head is down low and not moving. So what’s going through the trooper’s head: kidnapping, murder? I mean, why are these people from Connecticut up and why is the passenger being assaulted and then not moving? Clearly the need to continue this pursuit was there and it was appropriate.”

(Dillon) State police from the Rutland barracks will investigate the incident.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Bethel.

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