BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (NEWS10) — A Brattleboro police officer and two Vermont State Police sergeants will not be prosecuted after a fatal shooting incident in July. Attorney General Susanne Young and Orange County State’s Attorney Dickson Corbett said Monday they have decided not to pursue criminal charges against Brattleboro Police Officer Ryder Carbone and Vermont State Police Detective Sergeants Jesse Robson and Samuel Truex related to the fatal shooting of Matthew Davis. Corbett agreed to conduct an independent review of the investigation, after the Windham County State’s Attorney’s Office recused itself.
Young and Corbett “have independently concluded that the use of force by Officer Carbone and Sergeants Robson and Truex was objectively reasonable and justified,” according to a release from the investigating prosecutors. “Under the totality of the circumstances during and leading up to the discharge of their firearms, a reasonable officer in the situation … would have concluded that there was no alternative but to use deadly force to prevent the death or serious bodily injury of Sergeants Truex or Robson,” local newspaper, the Brattleboro Reformer, reported.
At about 11:30 p.m. on July 18, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) reached out to the Brattleboro Police Department, asking for help in finding Mary Anderson. A day earlier, family members reported Anderson missing and her ex-boyfriend, Davis, was suspected of foul play. MSP notified Brattleboro Police that Anderson’s phone connected to a Wi-Fi network somewhere in Brattleboro.
Prosecutors said MSP put out a missing person alert for Anderson, which noted recent “concerning incidents,” including a possible mental health breakdown of Davis on July 9. The bulletin also stated that Davis’ criminal record includes assault to kill, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and other similar incidents.
Brattleboro Police found Anderson dead inside her car on Elliot Street just before 1 a.m. on July 19, with a suspected gunshot wound. They asked for help from the Vermont State Police (VSP) with their investigation.
Later that night, at about 7:35 p.m., a VSP Trooper saw a man matching Davis’ description walking eastbound on Western Avenue and Route 9, according to a release. The officer, in an unmarked vehicle, continued to slowly follow and drive by Davis while waiting for backup to arrive. At one point, prosecutors said, Davis allegedly noticed the blue light in the officer’s window and then ran out of the officer’s sight onto Bonnyvale Road.
Nine minutes later, according to prosecutors, Carbone arrived in the area and the Trooper showed him where Davis was last seen. The officers asked for help from a K-9 unit. Carbone relocated his cruiser to effectively shut down Bonnyvale Road, and then exited with his shotgun. VSP officers, including Truex, held an elevated position of cover over a culvert on Bonnyvale Road.
Officers shouted, “bring the dog” and informed Carbone that Davis was under the bridge below them, prosecutors said. One of the officers stated that they believed Davis heard them requesting a K-9 because Davis began yelling something to the effect of, “send the dog, get the dog!” The officer reported that Davis, while in the culvert, was holding and object up with both hands above his body. The officer announced they were the State Police, as did other Troopers, and told Davis to come out of the culvert showing his hands.
Davis did not comply, said “[expletive] you, come get me,” and made growling noises, according to prosecutors. At about 7:46 p.m., Davis exited the culvert and ran into the woods towards All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.
Carbone ordered him to freeze, but Davis did not comply, according to the news release. Officers ran off the bridge and entered the woods heading south from Bonnyvale Road.
Seconds later, Davis was told to “stop right there,” but he continued to flee, prosecutors said. Carbone, Truex, Robson, and a VSP officer pursued Davis up a wooded embankment and through the woods.
Prosecutors said the pursuing officers ultimately confronted Davis—one of them yelled, “he’s got a knife,” and Carbone directed officers to “back up, back up.” Robson saw Davis holding a knife in his right hand.
“At this point, Mr. Davis was standing in a stationary position behind a couple of large trees but facing toward the officers who followed him into the woods,” the news release states. “Officers ordered Mr. Davis approximately ten times to ‘Drop the knife,’ ‘Drop it,’ and ‘Put it down.’ Mr. Davis replied ‘No’ approximately six times.”
Robson said he heard Truex ask Davis, “why did you kill her?” but did not hear a response. Truex saw a knife in Davis’ right hand, according to prosecutors, then Davis ran out from behind the trees with his knife displayed and ran downhill toward Truex and Robson. At the same time, the news release said, someone yelled, “get (them, ’em, or him)!”
About one minute after Davis was first ordered to stop, prosecutors said, the first of several gunshots rang out. Carbone’s shotgun was seen on camera being discharged three times. Robson and Truex also fired multiple rounds after Davis started running in their direction while holding the knife, according to the release.
Prosecutors said the last gunshot was heard about three seconds after the first. Brattleboro paramedics arrived on the scene and pronounced Davis dead at about 7:55 p.m. The knife was found on the ground, by his left armpit.
Robson and Truex “reasonably believed they were in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm at the hands of Mr. Davis, and they were justified in using deadly force to defend themselves,” prosecutors said. “Similarly, Officer Carbone was justified in using deadly force to protect the lives of Sergeant Truex and Sergeant Robson.”
The news release notes that under Vermont law, “an officer may use deadly force to repel an imminent threat to cause death or serious bodily injury when the officer objectively and reasonably believes that a person has the present ability, opportunity, and apparent intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury.”
Prosecutors said the officers arrived at the shooting scene knowing that MPD previously solicited assistance from Vermont law enforcement in finding Anderson and were aware that foul play was suspected on the part of Davis. “At the time Mr. Davis charged Sergeants Robson and Truex, Mr. Davis was in an elevated position and there was a steep embankment behind the officers, making a safe retreat impossible under the circumstances,” the news release states. “When Mr. Davis, rather than surrender or continue to flee, suddenly charged toward the nearby officers with his knife, there was no opportunity for the three officers to obtain less than lethal alternatives to their firearms.”