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State Police Officer Justified In Use Of Deadly Force

CONTACT: Matthew I. Levine, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5517

March 21, 2011

Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has completed its review of the police-shooting incident that occurred on October 28, 2010, in Rutland, Vermont. The Attorney General's Office has concluded, as a matter of law, that Vermont State Police Trooper Christopher Lora was legally justified in the use of deadly force when he discharged his firearm at James Lamont. The legal standard for the use of deadly force is whether the officer reasonably believed that he or a third party was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, and that deadly force was necessary to respond to that threat.

The incident took place on October 28, 2010, at about 9:00 p.m. in Rutland, Vermont. Trooper Lora had been part of a team of police officers looking for James Lamont, who had an active arrest warrant from New York for a parole violation. Further information from the Vermont Fusion Center, as well as the U. S. Marshal's office in New York, indicated that Lamont was to be considered armed and dangerous, and was suspected of being involved in recent armed robberies of drug dealers in New York and Vermont. He was reportedly in the Rutland area.

Trooper Lora located a vehicle being driven by a known associate of James Lamont, and was able to identify Lamont as a passenger in the vehicle. Lora then initiated a felony stop of the vehicle, which pulled in the parking lot of a Stewart's convenience store. Lora called for back-up assistance from VSP Sgt. Eric Albright, who was also assigned to assist in looking for Lamont. Members of the Vermont Drug Task Force, including members of the Rutland Police Department, who were also in the area, responded as well.

Lamont was ordered out of the vehicle and given specific instructions on what to do. He failed to comply with the officer's repeated instructions, and eventually moved away from the police officers, lifted up his shirt and pulled out a gun, pointing it in Trooper Lora's direction. Trooper Lora fired 5 shots, hitting and killing Lamont. Emergency Medical Services were called to respond, but Lamont died at the scene. Two handguns and a knife were found on Lamont.

Under the facts of this case, the Attorney General’s Office concluded that Trooper Lora had a reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury at the time he fired at James Lamont. Lamont was a known felon wanted on an active arrest warrant from New York. Trooper Lora had information that Lamont was also suspected in a number of recent armed robberies of drug dealers. He was reported to be armed and dangerous. Lamont failed to comply with the officer's repeated commands, and ultimately lifted his shirt and pulled a gun from his waistband, pointing it at Trooper Lora. Under such circumstances, Trooper Lora's decision to use deadly force to stop the threat was reasonable and justified.

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