Contact: Domenica Padula, Chief, Criminal Division, 802-828-3171
Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced today that his office has reviewed the officer-involved shooting incident that occurred on May 5, 2019 in Quechee, Vermont. The Attorney General’s Office is declining to prosecute Vermont State Police Trooper Eric Vitali for charges related to the non-fatal shooting of James Luce. In reaching this decision, the Office reviewed all the materials provided by the Vermont State Police, who conducted the investigation.
The evidence showed that Vermont State Police Trooper Eric Vitali and Trooper Stacy Corliss, along with members of the Hartford Police Department and the Lebanon Police Department (NH), responded to a call of an alleged domestic violence incident involving Mr. Luce. Mr. Luce was found walking down the road carrying a shotgun. Mr. Luce initially ignored numerous commands from law enforcement to stop and put down his weapon. Eventually, Mr. Luce did put down the shotgun but would not step away from it. As Mr. Luce continued to ignore commands to step away from the weapon, he suddenly grabbed the shotgun, turning towards Trooper Vitali and Trooper Corliss. At this point Trooper Vitali, in fear for his life, discharged his department issued shotgun once at Mr. Luce striking him with buckshot. Although Mr. Luce was struck, none of the shot penetrated his skin. The impact resulted in only minor injuries in the form of scratches and welts to his leg and midsection.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, it was reasonable for Trooper Vitali to think that he and other members of law enforcement were in imminent danger of being killed or seriously harmed by Mr. Luce. Accordingly, Trooper Vitali’s decision to use deadly force to stop the threat was reasonable and justified.
James Luce faced criminal charges for allegations related to this incident and was prosecuted by the Office of the State’s Attorney for Windsor County.
Last modified: August 29, 2019