Former St. Albans Cop Charged With Assaulting Prisoner in 2017 | Off Message

Former St. Albans Cop Charged With Assaulting Prisoner in 2017


Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs
  • Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Updated on June 30, 2020.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office on Monday charged a former St. Albans police officer with assault for pepper-spraying a handcuffed man in a holding cell in 2017.

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan initially declined to prosecute former corporal Joel Daugreilh in 2018, but he reopened the case in January when Vermont Public Radio requested video of the incident.

By that time, St. Albans police were facing public scrutiny over a different case in which a former sergeant, Jason Lawton, punched a handcuffed woman in a holding cell. Donovan's office charged Lawton with assault in November 2019. That case is pending.  Daugreilh resigned from the St. Albans force during an internal investigation into the pepper-spraying incident. Faced with a request for public records about the case from VPR, Donovan told the news outlet that he'd discovered "new information" about the incident and would hire a use-of-force expert to review it.

  • Vermont State Police
  • Joel Daugreilh
"I think I might have gotten this wrong," Donovan told VPR at the time.

He also reportedly pledged to release video of the incident once he completed his review.

Donovan's office did not respond to a request for footage on Monday, but a brief press release stated that he would answer questions following Daugreilh's June 30 arraignment in Franklin County.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Three former St. Albans cops now face criminal charges. In addition to Lawton and Daugreilh, officer Zachary Pigeon was charged in April with aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping for alleged off-duty conduct.
Pigeon was fired last Friday following an internal investigation, according to city manager Dominic Cloud. Pigeon was "terminated for violation of departmental rules, in particular honesty," after the city found discrepancies between what Pigeon told city investigators and Vermont State Police, Cloud said.

The city recently obtained an outside consultant to review the police department's hiring practices. Longtime chief Gary Taylor stepped down and is assigned to "special projects" until his December 31 retirement. Former Vermont State Police lieutenant Maurice Lamothe will take over as interim chief on July 1.