Monday, December 28, 2015



Temecula, CA – A few days before Christmas DEA and State Troopers in support fired 13 shots to kill the suspect in a 'no-knock' raid in Vermont. Until last Tuesday night, Vermont had been the only state in the U.S. without a fatal officer-involved shooting this year, a point I made in many of my columns about the distinction between war-hawk Hillary 'Benghazi' Clinton and my pick, Bernie Sanders, a man of the people and for the people, not Wall Street. Here is the report from the local press.

The man who was shot and killed during a drug raid Tuesday night in Burlington aimed a rifle at officers but never fired his weapon, the Vermont State Police say. In our multi-layered system of police, sheriffs, college, mall, and transit cops, the State Police fall under the 'guidance' of the Feds and have been used in no-knock shoot'em-ups going back to the killings of Black Panther groups.

Investigators on Wednesday identified the deceased man as Kenneth Stephens, 56, who was the subject of a search warrant that brought 16 state and federal law-enforcement agents to his Elmwood Avenue home for the no-knock drug raid. A state trooper and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent fired 13 shots between them from their patrol rifles after Stephens pointed his muzzle-loader at them, state police said. Having an agent shoot from each agency is important.

One of the bullets left the apartment and entered a neighboring home, where the round missed a resident's head by inches, a witness said. The stray gunshot prompted Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger to call for a federal investigation into the way the drug raid was carried out.

The DEA assured Police Chief Brandon del Pozo on Wednesday "that the DEA’s Office of Inspector General will perform a serious after-action review of this incident so that all agencies involved in protecting the public in this City can benefit from its lessons.”

Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil took place across the street from Stephens' home to mark his death and to protest police tactics.

The search warrant, which allowed the police to enter without knocking first, was approved Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Conroy and was to be carried out before Jan. 4, records show. The question seems to be, was this raid executed to remove Vermont's distinction of being the only state to not kill a citizen this year as the record now shows over 1100 Americans killed by American cops. Vermont now joins Connecticut and Rhode Island with one person killed apiece. Kenneth Stephens, who had a recent birthday was white for those who keep tract, but in common his blood was red because we all die the same.

State police said officers were briefed before the raid about Stephens' extensive criminal history in Vermont, including convictions for burglary and illegally possessing a firearm. Officers also were told that Stephens might be armed, because an informant in the drug case had told investigators a muzzle-loader was inside Stephens' apartment, investigators said.

Police Chief Brandon del Pozo said the DEA task force planned the search warrant execution, and there are positives and negatives when considering whether to apply for a no-knock warrant. He said virtually all warrants Burlington police obtain require them to knock.

If a subject of a search warrant is suspected to have a firearm in the home, del Pozo said, his agency considers apprehending a suspect outside the home, including through traffic stops.

About two dozen people gathered Wednesday evening to hold a candlelight vigil across the street from the house on Elmwood Avenue where Kenneth Stephens was killed. People came for a host of reasons: to protest “police violence,” to call for transparency from law enforcement, to mark a man’s death, to decry the war on drugs.

Michelle Sayles, 25, said she was walking home from the Old North End about 20 minutes after the incident Tuesday night when she saw the police tape around Stephens’ residence. She lives around the corner from where Stephens lived.

“I feel a little in shock about the whole thing,” Sayles said Wednesday night. “Up until yesterday, Vermont was one of the only states where somebody hadn’t been killed by a police officer so far this year. Now that’s no longer the case.”

Sayles also blamed the war on drugs for what happened.

“This is not the way we should be dealing with addiction,” she said. “It’s a much more complicated issue. We can’t solve it by literally attacking it and putting all our funding into incarceration. We need support for people.”

Directly in front of Stephens’ home, Devin Kaypin, 20, Isaac Hunter, 35, both of Burlington and Butch Kelly of Colchester were placing candles on the front steps of the home. The men said they knew Stephens.

Butch Kelly, left, and Issac Hunter, right

“I actually met him in jail about three years ago,” Kaypin said. “He seemed like a really nice dude in jail, and he was. His birthday was a couple of days ago.”

Kaypin said he received five calls from friends telling him Stephens had been shot.

“He was like a dad to me, more of a dad than I had, just in the short time I knew him,” Kaypin said. “He helped out everyone. He’d give you the shirt off his back, and it was big enough to cover three people. He was a big dude.”

Kelly said he didn’t understand why police took the action they did.

“They could have knocked on his door and walked in,” he said. “They didn’t have to shoot him.”

Was this a political execution because of Bernie Sanders verses Hillary Clinton? Was 911 an inside job?

(Story source – Burlington Free Press, edited for content, length, & politics. All photos, Adam Silverman)

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