The Attorney General’s Office and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office today announced the conclusions of their independent reviews of the non-fatal officer-involved shooting incident that occurred on August 13, 2022, in Burlington, Vermont. Both Attorney General Charity Clark and Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George have declined to prosecute Burlington Police Department Sergeant Simon Bombard for charges related to the non-fatal shooting of David Johnson. In reaching their decisions, the Attorney General’s Office and the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed all materials provided by Vermont State Police, who conducted the investigation, as well as a report from a use-of-force expert.
On August 13, 2022, at approximately 2:45pm, 911 received a call from a male reporting an emergency at a residence on Manhattan Drive in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington Police Department Officer Brock Marvin, Sergeant Simon Bombard, and Corporal Tyler Kahlig responded to the scene within minutes and encountered David Johnson holding a large kitchen knife while standing on the sidewalk outside of the residence. Numerous attempts by the officers to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful, with Mr. Johnson stating multiple times that he wanted the officers to shoot him, and that he wanted to die.
Approximately four minutes into the encounter, Mr. Johnson charged Officer Marvin while armed with the knife, resulting in Officer Marvin deploying his taser and Sergeant Bombard simultaneously firing three shots at Mr. Johnson. The first shot struck the back of Officer Marvin’s cruiser. The second shot struck Mr. Johnson in the upper left leg. The third shot struck two vehicles parked further down Manhattan Drive, including a vehicle occupied by a driver.
After the shot struck Mr. Johnson in the leg, he dropped the knife and attempted to crawl in the knife’s direction, but Officer Marvin was able to recover it first. The officers placed Mr. Johnson in handcuffs and began administering first aid. During this time, Mr. Johnson repeatedly told the officers that he had wanted them to kill him and that he wanted to die.
Pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 2305(3), under the totality of the circumstances, Sergeant Bombard reasonably believed Officer Marvin was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm at the hands of Mr. Johnson, and he was justified in using deadly force to defend Officer Marvin.
Under Vermont law, an officer may use deadly force to repel an imminent threat to cause death or serious bodily injury when the officer objectively and reasonably believes that a person has the present ability, opportunity, and apparent intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury. 20 V.S.A. §§ 2368(a)(4) and 2068(c)(1)(A). Furthermore, the use of deadly force is deemed necessary when, given the totality of the circumstances, an objectively reasonable officer in the same situation would conclude that there was no reasonable alternative to the use of deadly force that would prevent death or serious bodily injury to the officer or another person. 20 V.S.A. § 2368(c)(2).
Under the totality of these circumstances during and leading up to the shooting, an objectively reasonable officer in the position of Sergeant Bombard would have concluded that there was no reasonable alternative to using deadly force to prevent death or serious bodily injury.
CONTACT: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171