Judge: Burlington officer must be allowed to see bodycam video

Published: Jul. 1, 2019 at 7:28 PM EDT
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A Burlington police officer involved in a fight at a hospital with a man who died a few days later will get to see his body camera video before talking to investigators.

The Burlington Police Officers' Association sued for access and a judge agreed.

Douglas Kilburn, 54, died in March after fighting with Burlington Ofc. Cory Campbell in the parking lot of the UVM Medical Center.

Campbell was responding to a call about a disorderly man.

Police say Kilburn punched Campbell, and then Campbell punched back.

Kilburn was treated at the hospital and released.

A few days later he was found dead at home.

The medical examiner ruled Kilburn's death a homicide, saying skull fractures were a factor.

The Burlington Police Department allows officers to review body camera videos before making statements with permission.

Vermont State Police do not, and they're the ones investigating.

The Burlington Police Officers' Association says it's pleased with the judge's decision.

"I have personally not seen the video, but I have spoken with members of the department who have," said Dan Gilligan, the president of the Burlington Police Officers' Association. "They have said that that's exactly what it shows, so we have no concerns that the video will show anything but Corey defending himself."

Legal expert Jerry O'Neill breaks down why state and local police don't agree in this case.

"The significance is that many people would say if someone can go see a video of the events that took place, they can tailor their testimony to be able to fit what is shown in the video," O'Neill explained. "Whereas if they don't see the video, they would give more information that can be more contradicted by the video. It's certainly not the case here, but that's the perspective that some law enforcement officials would say is the circumstance. It's a statutory interpretation, so if you look at that, I think the judge gets it right. It's not a question of whether she thinks this is a good idea or a bad one from a policy perspective. She says the Legislature made the policy, I'm just simply following the policy."