WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) — A police officer facing criminal gun charges for shooting a fleeing suspect won't be allowed to use a firearm for a day so he can maintain his firearms certification, a judge ruled Friday.
Judge Nancy Corsones had been asked by suspended Windsor police Officer Ryan Palmer to modify his conditions of release so he could participate in a one-day firearms training session Nov. 5.
But Corsones said evidence presented at a Friday hearing supported the finding of the grand jury that Palmer knowingly shot someone with a deadly weapon and that surveillance video of the event differed from what Palmer told investigators.
"Given the utmost seriousness of the crime charged, given the variance of the officer's rendition of the shooting versus that which was captured on video ... the court denies the motion," Corsones wrote.
Palmer's attorney had argued that the public would have faced no threat by the request being granted.
Since he was charged in July, Palmer has continued to serve as the firearms instructor of the 13-officer Windsor Police Department.
"He continues to be trusted to carry out this role by his chief and by the people of Windsor," defense attorney Daniel Sedon said in court.
Sedon and Palmer left court Friday without commenting. Sedon didn't immediately return a call seeking comment after the ruling.
But Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine said that given the nature of the charges against Palmer, it seems to "defy common sense" to allow him access to firearms even for one day.
Palmer has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment in the Nov. 18 shooting of Jorge Burgos, who suffered minor injuries.
Police said Burgos and his girlfriend were wanted by authorities in two states, and authorities lured them to a parking lot for a meeting. Palmer and another officer wore plainclothes over their uniforms and weapons when they drove to the meeting, police reports said.
As police cruisers arrived with lights flashing, Burgos backed up in his car to the edge of the parking lot and accelerated toward Palmer, authorities said. Palmer sidestepped the car and fired his gun, shooting Burgos multiple times, authorities said.
Palmer had said he felt threatened by the moving vehicle, but a state police investigation found he fired at the car from the side.
He was suspended in July from his job as a police officer in Windsor, a town of about 3,500 along the Connecticut River about 60 miles southeast of Montpelier. He is now working for the department as a civilian while the criminal case is resolved, said Windsor Police Chief William Sampson.
The Nov. 5 training is only to keep current on his certification as a rifle instructor. A separate certification as a handgun trainer would not be affected, Sedon said in court.
Sampson said an internal review of the case won't take place until the criminal case has been resolved.
Sedon said he anticipated that Palmer would be acquitted by a jury when the criminal case goes to trial, expected next year.