ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont police chief has apologized to a Black man who was issued an assault citation following a neighborhood fight, and the citation has been rescinded.
Supporters of the suspect held a protest Thursday outside the headquarters of the Essex Police Department.
In a statement issued Thursday, Essex Police Chief Ron Hoague said more investigation should have been done before the aggravated assault citation was issued following the July 13 fight outside an Essex Junction home.
Essex police were called to the home after receiving a report of a disturbance. Police determined multiple subjects were involved and statements were given about several assaults that occurred prior to police arrival.
Initially the assault citation was given to the suspect. He was the only person charged. The suspect could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The next day the suspect gave police a video showing that a woman involved had directed a racial slur at him.
Hoague said probable cause did exist to charge the suspect, but the citation should not have occurred until after additional investigation had been completed and the case reviewed by the office of the Chittenden County state’s attorney.
An uninvolved supervisor will now review the evidence and submit the case for further review. The state’s attorney will determine the appropriate charges, including a possible hate crime enhancement.
The hate crimes unit of the Office of the Vermont Attorney General is also reviewing the case.
Essex police will also be conducting further training with the cooperation of a former official of the NAACP “to ensure that we are considering all aspects of a case, not just probable cause, before the determination of charges when there are many complicating factors,” Hoague’s statement said.