Widow Asks for Police Documents in Shooting Death

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(Host) The widow of a Burlington man killed by police last fall wants the state to release documents from its internal investigation of the incident. State and local police shot Eilisei Borlovan last September after he reportedly refused orders to drop a weapon.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) A police video camera captured the incident on tape. (Sound from videotape of police radio and gunfire.)

It was a sunny fall day near a busy intersection in Williston. Police had responded to a report that an armed man had fired shots at a gun shop near Taft Corners. They found Eilisei Borlovan stopped in traffic in a white car. When Borlovan allegedly pointed a weapon at police, officers fired twelve rounds. The 43-year old Romanian immigrant died instantly from a bullet wound in the neck. Police later found a loaded assault rifle, a semi-automatic pistol and a rifle in his car.

State prosecutors said the officers acted in self-defense. But Steven Bredice, a lawyer Borlovan’s widow, says it’s hard to judge whether that’s true because officials have refused to release the videotape and other evidence:

(Bredice) “If you accept the state’s word, it would seem that there was justification for the shooting. But that’s the problem ¿ it rests solely on information provided by the state. And one concern I have is the selectivity of the presentation of this information. So far only information that supports the state’s conclusion has been released.”

(Dillon) Bredice has asked for a full record of the investigation, including statements from witnesses and video tapes made by all the cruisers that responded.

A similar issue was raised after Brattleboro police shot and killed a distraught man last December. The attorney general’s office at first refused to release documents on the Brattleboro shooting. But the information was made public last month, after the police were cleared. Bredice says he’s concerned about a pattern of secrecy:

(Bredice) “One particular important facet of all this is that this is the second incident in which the response, the initial instinctive response by the prosecutorial agencies, has been concealment rather than disclosure. What I am concerned about is that if this happens in this case, following on the heels of the Brattleboro shooting, what we will as a people in this state have sanctioned is a culture of cover-up.”

(Dillon) For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

(Host) The general counsel for the Department of Public Safety says she was surprised by Bredice’s complaint. She says she has cooperated with Bredice on his record request.

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