City Council discuss death of Burlington man, police chief response

Published: Apr. 30, 2019 at 12:11 AM EDT
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The Burlington City Council had more questions for Mayor Miro Weinberger and Police Chief Brandon del Pozo Monday about their intervention into the state's death investigation of 54-year-old Douglas Kilburn.

Kilburn died three days after a physical fight with Burlington Police Ofc. Cory Campbell.

It’s a move that raised a few state officials' eyebrows, with some of them calling it "inappropriate" and an overstep of authority.

At Monday night’s meeting, councilors wanted to know why they had that discussion behind closed doors.

"That seems to be a more, at least in my opinion, a more fair and transparent way about addressing a situation as opposed to trying to challenge the finding privately as well as the timing of its release," City Councilor Max Tracy said.

Burlington Police Department Chief Brandon del Pozo defended his actions, saying the reason they contacted the medical examiner was so he could understand the homicide ruling.

"I didn’t want to challenge the finding in public in a way that would seem I was impugning the credibility of the evidence," del Pozo said.

City Attorney Eileen Blackwood also defended the chief’s action.

"What happened is that the medical examiner called him and reported the findings of this death," said Blackwood. "These are not the medical examiner's words but my words, that finding was somewhat unusual."

The city’s intervention wasn’t the only topic on the table. Other City Council members wanted to know where the bodycam footage was and when the public would see it.

Mayor Miro Weinberger. D-Burlington, told the council the body cam footage is being withheld at the request of state police and the attorney general's office.

"There’s a difference of opinion about the actions here," Weinberger said. "I think when all of the information is known, reasonable people will understand the questions and concerns the chief and I had and the actions that we took."

Chief del Pozo told WCAX he supports a public review of his departments use-of-force policy in the wake of the Kilburn-Campbell case.

"I think we're definitely open to reviewing our department's use-of-force policy. I think it hasn't been updated in a while. I think our training and our expectations of our officers have outpaced some of the things we have in writing and I think we'd benefit by opening up the process to input from the commission and people of the city," del Pozo said.

The chief didn't provide any details on what possible changes might look like.