Burlington Cop Reprimanded for Profanity That Set Off Violent Altercation | Off Message

Burlington Cop Reprimanded for Profanity That Set Off Violent Altercation


Douglas Kilburn (left) and Officer Cory Campbell - COURTESY OF LISA WEBBER | BURLINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Courtesy of Lisa Webber | Burlington Police Department
  • Douglas Kilburn (left) and Officer Cory Campbell
Burlington Police Officer Cory Campbell violated departmental rules last year when he swore at Douglas Kilburn in the moments before an altercation that led to the 54-year-old man's death, police said Friday.

Campbell received a written reprimand for his conduct but remains a "valued member of this department," Acting Chief Jon Murad said in a Friday afternoon press release. 

The encounter between Campbell and Kilburn outside the University of Vermont Medical Center last March escalated quickly once Campbell yelled for Kilburn, who was arguing with private security from the driver's seat of his SUV, to "shut the fuck up and leave."

Kilburn responded, "You ain't got a right to swear at me, motherfucker!" opened his car door, and struck Campbell in the face.
Campbell returned several bone-breaking punches that the state medical examiner said contributed to Kilburn's untimely death a few days later.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced in November that he would not bring criminal charges against Campbell. But the AG did criticize the officer's handling of the situation.
Burlington police started its internal probe into Campbell's conduct following Donovan's decision. At the time, then-police chief Brandon del Pozo told Seven Days that the review would focus on Campbell's profanity and was unlikely to lead to suspension or termination.

That review is now complete. Friday's announcement stated that Campbell's language was "not directed at Mr. Kilburn's character nor identity, but was instead used as an emphatic in an otherwise lawful order."
Nonetheless, Campbell broke a rule barring officers from using "violent, insolent, or obscene language" during interactions with the public.

The department also said Campbell needed "retraining," but concluded that the officer completed sufficient training during his prolonged period on administrative duty as the criminal investigation progressed. He's been back on full duty since early November.

Some members of Kilburn's family have faulted Campbell for escalating the encounter.

"It is clear to me that Officer Campbell’s aggression and his foul, vulgar mouth are what provoked this incident," Kilburn's uncle, Albert, told Seven Days last year.

Read the press release below:

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