Contact: Earl Fechter, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3171
Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced today that his office has reviewed the officer-involved shooting incident that occurred on August 9, 2019 in Montpelier, Vermont. The Attorney General’s Office is declining to prosecute Montpelier Police Department Corporal Chad Bean for charges related to the fatal shooting of Mark J. Johnson. The Office concluded that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the use of deadly force to stop an imminent threat of bodily harm was reasonable and justified. In reaching this decision, the Office reviewed materials provided by the Vermont State Police, who conducted the investigation.
The evidence showed that on August 9, 2019, Corporal Bean and fellow Montpelier Police Department Officer Christopher Quesnel responded to an incident involving a man, ultimately identified as Mark Johnson, who had allegedly brandished a knife at a resident in the Pioneer Street Apartments in Montpelier. Based on the evidence, after the officers arrived on the scene, Corporal Bean observed in the first floor hallway of the apartments a man holding something and exiting the building. Officer Quesnel then observed the man outside crossing Main Street and walking to the Spring Street bridge. The man held a handgun that reasonably appeared to be a firearm. The man displayed signs of agitation. He occasionally rocked back and forth. He stepped up onto the railings of the bridge while peering down toward the river. He muttered remarks. He did not react to the officers’ repeated attempts to de-escalate the situation. The officers tried to speak with the man, Mr. Johnson, numerous times and offer him help, but he did not respond. He ignored their repeated commands to put down the gun. At various times during the incident, Mr. Johnson held the gun in the general direction of the officers. The evidence showed that it was only after Mr. Johnson stepped down from the railing of the bridge, abruptly turned toward the officers squaring off in their direction, and appeared deliberately to take aim at Corporal Bean that Corporal Bean fired his weapon at Mr. Johnson striking him twice, once in the chest and once in the abdomen. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Mr. Johnson’s cause of death to be “Gunshot Wounds of Torso.” The handgun held by Mr. Johnson, which was ultimately determined after the incident to be a pellet gun, and a knife were recovered at the scene.
Based on the totality of the circumstances, it was reasonable for Corporal Bean to think that he and Officer Quesnel were in imminent danger of being killed or seriously harmed by Mr. Johnson. Accordingly, Corporal Bean’s decision to use deadly force to stop the threat was reasonable and justified under the circumstances.
The Office of the State’s Attorney for Washington County also conducted an independent review and has declined to file criminal charges against Corporal Bean.
Last modified: October 30, 2019