Courtesy of Lisa Webber | Burlington Police Department
Douglas Kilburn (left) and Officer Cory Campbell
The family of Douglas Kilburn is suing the City of Burlington, the mayor and police over his death last year following an altercation with a city cop outside the University of Vermont Medical Center.
The civil complaint, filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, accuses Officer Cory Campbell of using excessive force when he punched Kilburn in the face, breaking multiple bones. The officer's actions in March 2019 ultimately caused Kilburn's "unjustified death," his family asserts.
The suit also targets former police chief Brandon del Pozo and Mayor Miro Weinberger, claiming they tried to conceal Campbell's wrongful conduct by seeking to change the state medical examiner's conclusions in the case.
Notably, the family's claims in this suit do not extend to the hospital, which treated Kilburn for his facial injuries and discharged him. He was found dead at home a few days later.
Kilburn had been seeking to visit his wife, Cheryl, who was a patient at the time, when private security guards called police for backup. He was said to be "irate" at the hospital and had been denied access to see her. Campbell helped resolve the dispute and escorted Kilburn to his wife's bedside.
Later, as Campbell was exiting the hospital, he came upon Kilburn arguing again with a security guard from the driver's seat of his SUV. This time, Campbell yelled at the man to "shut the fuck up and leave," triggering a physical confrontation that left Kilburn bloodied in the ambulance bay.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan elected not to prosecute Campbell on the grounds that Kilburn had seemed to throw the first, albeit much less forceful, punch. He faulted the cop for antagonizing the 54-year-old Kilburn, who was in poor physical and mental health at the time.
The city currently faces two other civil rights cases related to officers' use of force. A suit brought last year by brothers Jérémie, Charlie and Albin Meli is headed toward trial after multiple mediation attempts failed. Campbell is named in that suit as well.