Vt police say man shot by officer ignored orders
BURLINGTON — The Burlington police officer who shot and killed a man wielding a shovel was called to the home with another officer by the man’s mother, who reported her son was acting irrationally and destroying property, state police said Thursday.
When officers arrived at the New North End home late Wednesday afternoon they found Wayne Brunette, 49, “brandishing a long-handled pointed spade” shovel, police said. He then advanced toward the officers and ignored repeated orders to drop the shovel, police said.
Brunette, a longtime Burlington resident, was shot by Burlington Police Cpl. Ethan Thibault, a 12-year veteran. Thibault fired multiple shots, state police said, but police did not say how many were fired or how many times Brunette was hit.
Brunette died later at a hospital.
Thibault and the other officer who responded, 10-year veteran Cpl. Brent Navari, have been placed on administrative leave, a routine practice after a shooting involving an officer.
Officers are trained to recognize that items such as a baseball bat or shovel are potentially deadly weapons, said Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling in a Thursday morning news conference.
“I think the law enforcement standard is very clear, and I think the court standards that evaluate those cases are also fairly clear — that something like that can clearly be a deadly weapon,” Schirling said.
Brunette had a history of run-ins with police, including a 2001 incident in which the state police bomb squad found several explosives in his home. But Schirling said none of those incidents was recent.
Once the state police investigation has been completed, the results will be turned over to the office of the Chittenden County state’s attorney and the state attorney general.
The shooting was the first by a Burlington officer since 1997.
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