"I've seen the guy around, I've never seen him hurt anybody. I just don't understand how it escalated so quickly into what it was," said Jeremy Sterling.
The scene stunned witnesses and was partially caught on tape.
A call Thursday to Winooski police claimed 35-year-old Isaac Sage was trespassing at the Woolen Mill Apartment Complex. Officers Jason Nokes and Chris Machavern found the suspect at the intersection of West Allen and Weaver Streets.
When they approached him, police say Sage became agitated and punched Nokes in the face, giving the officer a concussion and breaking his nose. Things escalated from there.
"Obviously it's pretty rare to see this occur, but we want to make sure everything was followed by the book and the use of force was justified," said Chittenden County State's Attorney, T.J. Donovan.
Police say Machavern hit Sage twice with a taser without it causing any effect. Police say Sage continued to resist arrest. Nokes then shot Sage in the thigh.
"Police officers have a hard job. They work very hard and very rarely do they discharge their firearm, only in extraordinary circumstances. So, we'll get the facts and we'll figure out what happened here," said Donovan.
In the meantime, Sage is being held on $10,000 bail until he completes a mental health evaluation.
But prosecutors say it's better for Sage and society to have him behind bars.
"He's delusional and there's real concerns for Mr. Sage's mental health and his capacity to understand what's going on. And obviously that's a concern not only for Mr. Sage but for the community," said Donovan.
But witnesses say otherwise.
"There's another side of the story that I didn't see beforehand. But what I saw from my window up there to down here, just seemed a little much," said Sterling.
Vermont State Police are investigating whether the actions of Nokes and Machavern were justified. After that there will also be independent reviews by the Chittenden County Prosecutor's office and the Vermont Attorney General.
In the meantime, both officers are on leave. But this is not the first time Nokes has been on leave. Back in 2011, he was found passed out drunk behind the wheel of his truck, four times over the legal limit.
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