No charges for trooper in shooting

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ARLINGTON — A state police trooper will not face charges after returning fire in an incident in January that left Arlington resident Matthew Novick wounded, Attorney General T.J. Donovan has announced.

In a media release sent Wednesday, Donovan announced that his office has reviewed the shooting, which occurred early in the morning on Jan. 7, and has declined to prosecute Vermont State Police Trooper Raymond Witkowski for charges related to discharging his firearm at Novick.

In reaching the decision, Donovan's office reviewed all of the materials provided by the Vermont State Police, which conducted the investigation, according to the release.

The incident began after a relative of Novick called state police early in the morning on Jan. 7 to report that Novick was having a "mental health crisis" at his Red Mountain Road home, Maj. Dan Trudeau said in a press conference in Shaftsbury after the shooting.

Two Vermont State Police troopers from the Shaftsbury Barracks arrived on the scene about 4:40 a.m. They reported seeing Novick standing in the doorway of the home, carrying "what appeared to be an AK-47 style semi-automatic rifle," the Banner previously reported.

After calling for backup, police said they heard "a number of gunshots" fired from the area of the home and the driveway, which led police to evacuate nearby homes.

At around 5:50 a.m., Novick walked down his driveway and fired in the direction of police, Trudeau said. Troopers then took cover and two returned fire, and Novick was struck "multiple times," the Banner previously reported.

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Two troopers initially were thought to have returned fire: Witkowski and Shawn Sommers. But during the course of the investigation, state police were unable to determine forensically whether Sommers fired his weapon during the incident, said Adam Silverman, public information officer for the Vermont State Police, in an email.

The state police presented this information to the Attorney General's office as part of their review of the investigation.

Such a review is standard procedure for officer-involved shooting incidents, Silverman said.

Witkowski and Sommers were placed on administrative leave, and later administrative duty, following the incident, per VSP policy. Both have returned to full duty, Silverman said in an email.

Novick sustained multiple gunshot wounds during the incident. He pleaded not guilty in January to felony counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault with a weapon in connection with the shooting, the Banner previously reported.

Novick faces a presumptive minimum term of 35 years to life in prison if convicted on the attempted murder charge.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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