Dramatic bodycam video released of fight between man, police officer

Published: Jul. 3, 2019 at 4:29 PM EDT
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Dramatic body camera video was released Wednesday showing a fight between a man and a police officer outside the UVM Medical Center.

After winning a court battle, Burlington Police Ofc. Cory Campbell's lawyer released the 35-minute body camera video to the public. Campbell's lawyer says they wanted people to see it because they believe it shows the officer acted appropriately.

Our Cat Viglienzoni watched the whole thing and breaks it down for you.

The body camera video from March 11 starts in the UVM Medical Center emergency department parking lot.

"They are not going to let me see my wife," Douglas tells Campbell in the video.

Kilburn, 54, had been told to leave by security who called Burlington police for assistance. Ofc. Campbell responded.

Ofc. Cory Campbell: We were called here because someone was acting 'irate.'

Douglas Kilburn: I was but they told me that if I got in my truck and I calmed down I could go in and then he went and hid like a little cockroach.

Ofc. Cory Campbell: So the way you're talking right now is not going to help you.

Douglas Kilburn: No -- I'm calm!

Campbell talks to security who agrees to let the officer escort Kilburn to his wife's room. Their interaction ends on a friendly note.

Douglas Kilburn: Thank you sir (shakes hand). I give you my word!

Ofc. Cory Campbell: OK, all right, just remain civil.

But a bit later, Kilburn is parked in the ER ambulance bay, allegedly refusing to move.

Douglas Kilburn: You don't need to trespass me, I'm leaving.

Ofc. Cory Campbell: All right, leave, then, bye. Goodbye!

Douglas Kilburn: I know that guy--

Ofc. Cory Campbell: Shut the f--k up and leave! Go! They don't want you here.

Douglas Kilburn: Did you just swear at me?

Ofc. Cory Campbell: Yes, I did.

Douglas Kilburn: You're a f--king punk.

Ofc. Cory Campbell: Yeah, whatever (begins to walk away).

That's when Campbell's lawyer says Kilburn still didn't leave.

Douglas Kilburn: You ain't got a right to swear at me (begins to get out of car).

Ofc. Cory Campbell: Don't start-- don't start it--

Douglas Kilburn: You ain't got a right to swear at me. (more swearing & punches).

Campbell says Kilburn threw the first punch. Then he punched Kilburn three times.

Kilburn is handcuffed and brought into the hospital. As the exchange continues, he claims he didn't mean to punch the officer.

Douglas Kilburn: Easy, my ribs!

Ofc. Cory Campbell: Yeah, well, you just f--king punched me in the face.

Douglas Kilburn: You punched me in the face, too.

Ofc. Cory Campbell: That's right, I did.

Kilburn died three days later and the medical examiner indicated that injuries to his skull may have been a factor.

Campbell's lawyer, Richard Cassidy, says the body camera video clears his client.

"This is a simple case of self-defense," Cassidy said.

But we wanted to know if Campbell's language made the situation worse. Burlington Police Ofc. and Use of Force Instructor David Clements says no because Kilburn wasn't responding to softer commands.

"Although the language looks kind of bad on video, it's more of a direct language approach. So it's an escalation of verbal command before it turns physical," Clements said.

And they say Campbell followed his training.

"The world revolved around Douglas Kilburn. They made as many accommodations for him as possible," said Daniel Gilligan, the president of the Burlington Police Officers' Association. "At this point, there was no other option. It was time for him to leave, and if he wasn't going to leave, he was going to get arrested."

Now that Campbell has seen the video, he's ready to speak with investigators.

But Vermont State Police already wrapped up their investigation and have handed the case over to the Vermont attorney general's office for review. That's where it sits tonight. No word on whether this video or Campbell's offer of a statement will have any impact on the outcome.

Editor's note: At approximately 17:40 on the body camera video, the officer turns off his audio.