MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – The fatal shooting of a gun-wielding man by police last April was justified given the threat he posed to police and others, Vermont’s attorney general and a county prosecutor said Friday. But the man’s brother said police could’ve done more to avoid the fatal confrontation.

Darren Tufts, 41, was shot 10 times by two Vermont State Police troopers after pointing an assault rifle at them in the April 22 incident outside his Bradford home.

“This was a pretty clear-cut situation the officers confronted,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine, who oversaw the state’s review. “They had no other choice but to act as they did.”

Tufts, who had told his girlfriend earlier that he’d shoot himself or police if they came to his home, was shot once when he stepped toward Sgt. Michael Manley and Trooper Hugh O’Donnell and again when he pulled a pistol after falling to his knees, according to Attorney General William Sorrell and Orange County State’s Attorney William Porter, who conducted parallel reviews that reached the same conclusion.

Tufts, who died at the scene, had marijuana, alcohol and enough antidepressant Venlafaxine in his system to kill him when he was shot, an autopsy found.

His guns weren’t loaded, but police didn’t know that at the time, according to Sorrell and Porter.

“Considering the serious and continuing threat, the officers’ decision to use deadly force was reasonable and justified,” they said in a news release announcing their findings.

Police were called to his home on noise complaints twice before that day, but left each time after being unable to make contact with him. When the neighbor called 911 again to report shots fired, Manley, O’Donnell and Bradford Police Chief Gene Martin responded.

Told by Tufts’ girlfriend that he may be suicidal, they arrived to find the house on fire and Tufts on the front porch. He stepped off the porch onto a stone step and then took another step toward the officers before they fired, according to Sorrell and Porter.

“Fearing he was about to be shot, O’Donnell fired first, hitting Tufts who fell to his knees. The rifle fell next to Tufts. Tufts then made a twisting movement and reached to his side with one arm. It appeared to Manley that Tufts was reaching down to pick up the rifle. However, O’Donnell saw Tufts pulling out a handgun. Both Manley and O’Donnell then fired additional shots,” Sorrell and Porter said.

All told, 12 shots were fired – nine from O’Donnell’s assault rifle, three from Manley’s pistol – and 10 hit Tufts.

An autopsy by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Steven Shapiro found that the shots killed him but that the Venlafaxine, which was 10 times the therapeutic dose, could’ve killed him if the shots hadn’t.

An investigation into the fire showed it started in Tufts’ apartment, probably from a broken glass kerosene lamp.


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