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Officer in altercation allowed to see body cam footage

July 2, 2019

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont police officer will be allowed to see body camera footage of his altercation with a man who was punched in the head and was found dead days later, a judge ruled.

Police say Officer Cory Campbell responded to a report of a disorderly person outside of the University of Vermont Medical Center on March 11. They said Douglas Kilburn, of Burlington, was blocking ambulance bays with his vehicle.

Authorities said Kilburn hit Campbell in the face and Campbell punched him back.

Kilburn was treated at the hospital and released the following day. He was found dead two days later at his home. The chief medical examiner’s office said the cause of death was “undetermined terminal mechanism” due to underlying medical conditions, including skull fractures from the altercation.

The police union had requested the body camera footage, a written report of the altercation by Campbell and an affidavit supporting criminal charges against Kilburn. It was denied by the Vermont State Police and the city.

The city said the material was exempt from disclosure because the records were part of a criminal investigation.

Campbell wanted to view the footage before giving a statement to police. The Burlington Police Officers’ Association sued to get the footage.

State police supported the city’s position not to release the materials, and expressed concern that providing the video before Campbell is interviewed could influence his description of what happened, Vermont Superior Court Judge Helen Toor wrote.

Toor ruled Monday that the city must release the videos to the police union.

“No matter how reasonable the State Police policy regarding withholding videos until after an interview may be, the Public Records Act does not permit a general police department policy to control in such situations,” she wrote in her decision.

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