Bristol officer leaves prisoner outside
BRISTOL — A Bristol police officer’s decision to leave a prisoner handcuffed to a wall outside a jail for nearly a half hour on Feb. 7 has sparked a criminal investigation into the possible mistreatment of an alleged offender and a violation of custody rules.
The officer left the woman, Chantel Storti, standing on the grounds at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 7, during a dispute about where the prisoner should be housed. Storti was reportedly wearing a sweatshirt but no hat or gloves, and was held inside an unheated sally port, or garage-like space, for 22 minutes after the South Burlington jail refused to take custody of the woman.
The Bristol police officer, whose name has not been released, took the woman back into custody after guards at the South Burlington facility called the Vermont State Police.
All of the officials involved either declined to comment on Friday or were unreachable. Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs was off duty on Friday and dealing with a personal matter. Vermont State Police Sgt. Lance Burnham would not comment beyond saying the investigation was still open. Vermont Department of Corrections staff said that Commissioner Andy Pallito was out of the office Friday and others in the department declined to comment in his absence.
Bristol Town Administrator Bill Bryant offered only a prepared statement.
“The Vermont State Police are reviewing an incident concerning the refusal of the Chittenden County correctional center to accept a prisoner transfer from the Bristol police department on a Chittenden County warrant on Sunday evening, Feb. 7, 2010,” Bryant read from the prepared statement Friday morning. “As the details of this matter are under review by the state police, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment about it at this time.”
The Bristol officer picked up Storti on Feb. 7 on a charge of violation of probation based on an arrest warrant issued in Chittenden County, according to the Department of Corrections. The officer then alerted officials at the South Burlington jail that he was bringing the woman in to be lodged before her arraignment.
Typically, Bristol police and other Addison County police departments are asked to transport prisoners they arrest to the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland. That’s because the South Burlington jail is often at or near its 197-bed capacity handling prisoners arrested in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.
Though officials at the jail tried to send the officer to Rutland, the officer reportedly told them that the woman needed to come to Chittenden because her warrant had been issued in Chittenden County.
Corrections officers asked the police officer to bring a copy of the warrant with him when he transported the prisoner to the South Burlington jail, but the officer did not have a copy of the warrant when he arrived with Storti in custody.
A dispute brewed when the officer and the corrections employees disagreed about who should take custody of the woman, with the corrections officers insisting that the Bristol officer should take the woman south to Rutland. Eventually the Bristol officer took custody of the woman again and left.
Reporter Kathryn Flagg is at [email protected].