MONTPELIER — The Montpelier police officer who shot and killed a man during a standoff with police in the Capital City last week was previously accused of using excessive force that led to the death of a city resident in 2012.
However, the case against Chad Bean was later dismissed.
In the early hours of Aug. 9, Bean, a corporal with Montpelier Police Department, was the officer investigators say fired two shots into the torso of 62-year-old Mark Johnson on the Spring Street bridge.
Bean was a patrol officer in Montpelier when he responded June 26, 2012, to a 911 call from a resident who reported a domestic dispute with her husband, according to court records from a civil complaint that was heard by a federal district judge in 2015.
According to court records, the man suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease, and had rotator cuff and joint issues, which Bean was not aware of when he responded to the call.
In court documents, the woman said her husband asked for additional antacid tablets and when she refused, he knocked the antacid container away and grabbed her wrists. The woman was able to grab a phone on the bed and call 911. During the call, the dispatcher heard the man tell the woman to hang up and was verbally abusive.
Court records said that when Bean arrived, he heard loud voices and screaming. Bean announced, “Montpelier Police,” kicked in the front door and he along with two other officers entered the home. They found the man holding the woman’s wrists and yelling at her, and she was crying.
Because the man was in his underwear, the officers determined he did not have a weapon, so they holstered their weapons, court papers stated. Bean was the first to enter the room and ordered the man to release the woman. When he failed to do, another officer attempted to release his grip on the woman’s wrists.
“At that point, Officer Bean performed the rear wrist lock, which he had been taught was a low-level force technique that uses pain compliance on a subject’s wrist to assist officers in controlling an individual or facilitating handcuffing,” court papers stated. “As Officer Bean performed the rear wrist lock by bringing (the man’s) left hand behind his back to cuff him, he felt (him) resist and pull away. At approximately this same time, Officer Bean heard a snap and (the man’s) left arm went limp.”
The woman tried to warn Bean that he could not use such a restraint on her husband, the court papers stated.
“I said, ‘You can’t do that, and it was too late. It was — he’d already — he broke it,’” the woman stated in court papers.
The man was taken to the hospital and admitted for treatment for an elbow fracture and underwent surgery to repair the injury with plates and screws. However, the surgical site became infected, leading to the man’s death Aug. 5, 2012, the court papers stated.
In dismissing the lawsuit, however, the judge ruled that Bean’s use of a wrist lock was “a reasonable means of obtaining control of an agitated and non-compliant individual whom he had probable cause to arrest and who appeared to pose an immediate threat to those in close proximity to him.”
Asked to respond to the 2012 incident involving Bean, Montpelier Police Chief Tony Facos said in an email Thursday, “Regarding comments on that case, everything is in the court records, the city responded to the lawsuit and the case was ultimately dismissed in federal court. The case was also investigated by the Vermont State Police at my request and cleared by the (Vermont attorney general’s office). The officer’s use of force in that case was not excessive.”
At the time of the Aug. 9 incident, two Montpelier officers responded to reports of a man with a knife trying to enter the apartment of another resident at nearby Pioneer Apartments where Johnson lived.
According to Vermont State Police, last week Montpelier officers Bean and Chris Quesnel responded at 5:04 a.m. to see Johnson running away from the apartment complex, carrying what appeared to be a handgun resembling a Beretta 9 mm pistol. The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun. Police have not said whether the pellet pistol was loaded.
Despite repeated requests to drop the weapon, efforts to de-escalate the conflict and offers to get help for Johnson, police said Johnson raised the weapon at the officers. Johnson was shot by police.
He was taken to Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, where he was pronounced dead. Johnson’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office where his death was ruled a homicide.
No police officers nor other individuals were injured during the incident that lasted 12 minutes. Montpelier Police officers involved were put on paid administrative leave while Vermont State Police investigate the incident.
When the investigation is completed, the case will be sent for review to the attorney general’s office and the Washington County state’s attorney’s office.
Johnson’s death was the second fatal police-shooting in the city following the death of Nathan Giffin, of Essex, after a nearly hour-long standoff at Montpelier High School in January 2018. After an investigation, the attorney general’s office did not press charges against any of the officers involved.