State trooper cleared in Sept. 4 Bristol shooting
BRISTOL — Addison County State’s Attorney David Fenster and Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that they have completed independent separate reviews of a police-shooting incident that occurred on Sept. 4, 2014, in Bristol.
Both prosecutors have concluded, as a matter of law, that Vermont State Police Sgt. Michael Dion was legally justified in the use of deadly force when he shot Tina LaBossiere, 42, of Crown Point, N.Y. The legal standard for the use of deadly force is whether the officer reasonably believed that he or a third party was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and that deadly force was necessary to respond to that threat, they said in a press release.
LaBossiere survived the shooting.
The incident began at about 8:26 p.m. when Norman Michaud, 56, who was at a residence in Bristol, called 911 and reported that he had a handgun and was going to kill himself. He said the police had 5 minutes to get there, and that the only way they would prevent him from killing himself was if they shot him. Members of municipal, county and state police responded to the call, including Sgt. Dion and other members of the Vermont State Police from the New Haven barracks.
Prior to Sgt. Dion’s arrival at the scene, a second 911 call was made by Arnold Menard, the homeowner of the property where the incident occurred, informing police that Norman Michaud had shot himself in the head, but was still alive, and also that a female, later identified as Tina LaBossiere, was in possession of the gun. This information was relayed to all responding officers, and was confirmed by Sgt. Dion upon his arrival at the scene.
Once at the scene, Sgt. Dion also learned that Tina LaBossiere’s son, Robert LaBossiere, was present and speaking with his mother on a cell phone. Sgt. Dion instructed Robert LaBossiere to tell his mother to put the gun down and walk up the driveway from the residence to where the officers were located near the road. The home on the property is more than 100 feet from Pine Street, situated mostly behind another house, and is difficult to see from the road.
Tina LaBossiere and Norman Michaud were located near the Menard residence that was located at the bottom of a driveway that ran behind a first residence near the top of the driveway and the street. Robert LaBossiere relayed these instructions to his mother numerous times, according to a press release issued by Fenster’s and Sorrell’s offices. Nevertheless, Tina LaBossiere began walking up the driveway with the gun in her hand, waving it around. Once she came into view of the officers, who were located on two sides of the driveway near the top, Sgt. Dion began yelling commands directly to her, telling her to drop the gun. Despite the repeated commands to drop the gun, Tina LaBossiere continued to walk up the driveway and wave the gun around, getting closer to the officers.
Sgt. Dion, along with Trooper Joe Szarejko, were located at the corner of a porch of the first house located near the top of the driveway, using the first house for cover. When Ms. LaBossiere reached a position almost parallel to their location, the officers no longer had cover. Fearing for his life and for the lives of Trooper Szarejko and the officers on the other side of the driveway, Sgt. Dion fired one shot striking Ms. LaBossiere in the abdomen.
Police were then able to secure her, retrieve the gun, and locate Michaud, who had a self-inflicted head wound, near the bottom of the driveway. Emergency medical personnel, who were located nearby because of the earlier 911 calls, were then able to provide emergency treatment to both Michaud and LaBossiere, and transport them to a hospital. Both survived their injuries.
Under the facts of this case, the Addison County State’s Attorney and the Attorney General’s Office concluded that Sgt. Dion was reasonable in his belief that he and his fellow officers were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury when he fired at Tina LaBossiere, who was holding and waving a gun and continuing to advance in the direction of the officers despite numerous repeated commands to drop the weapon.
In the press release, Fenster and Sorrell said Sgt. Dion fired only at the point at which he and Trooper Szarejko lost their cover.
“LaBossiere’s continued advance and failure to put down her weapon put their safety, as well as the safety of the officers on the other side of the driveway, in jeopardy,” they said. “Under those circumstances, Sgt. Dion’s decision to use deadly force was reasonable and justified.”
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