Stand Clear(ed): AG Sorrel Investigates Hartford PD Again

On Friday the 13th (before a long three-day holiday weekend) Attorney General Sorrell made available a report that finds no basis for charges against Hartford Police officers involved in two recent incidents involving excessive force – sorry, alleged excessive force.

In one incident a woman involved in a domestic dispute suffered a concussion and assorted bruises when officers attempted to take her into “protective custody.”

In the other event a man was dragged from his home, taken into custody, and cited for leaving the scene of an accident after his unoccupied vehicle was found off the road nearby. However he was released a short time later and charges were withdrawn.

Here is the local paper’s description of the second case:

Darrek Daoust, 49, told the newspaper he had had a pizza and glass of wine at a restaurant earlier in the evening. No alcohol charges were filed. He said he’d intended to deal with his vehicle in the morning.

After police arrived, he talked to officers through his screen door, but refused to step outside. They entered his house and detained him, pressing his face into the crushed rock of his driveway as they subdued him. He also was struck [four times] by an officer wielding a flashlight, a police report said.


No strangers to this sort of problem, the Hartford Police were investigated and cleared by AG Sorrell in another – alleged – excessive force event that took place in May 2010. In that case, following reports of a burglary, Hartford police found an African American man, who was unconscious and had a medical condition, pepper sprayed him, hauled him naked from his own home, and handcuffed him on the pavement. An officer threatened a neighbor with arrest while trying to tell police they were arresting the home owner. (The question of press access to police reports in this case, and potentially others like it, is under consideration by the Vermont Supreme Court.)

In these two recent cases Attorney General Sorrell found no cause to bring charges against officers.  Regarding the Daoust case he states:

Although the officers did not obtain a warrant or consent to enter the Daousts’ home, the question of the legality of the arrest does not determine the outcome of the review of the officers’ use of force to the resistance.

Under Vermont law, there is no right to resist an arrest, even an illegal arrest. The remedy for an alleged illegal arrest is suppression of any evidence wrongfully obtained, or the filing of a lawsuit for civil damages. These legal principles support an underlying public policy of discouraging citizens from fighting with police any time they think the police may be acting in error.”


Sorrell’s five-page report notes that the town had taken “steps in the right direction” and should continue ongoing training for officers to properly serve the community. Perhaps there are a few Dirty Harry’s on the Hartford force, but the principle that the ends (arrests, however unsupported by facts or due process details like warrants) ‘justify’ the means usually gets passed down from the top.

Apparently in Vermont there can be lots of smoke, but Attorney General Bill Sorrell – who, among other responsibilities, is supposed to protect Vermonters’ civil rights, even, or especially, against over-zealous police forces – can’t see a fire anywhere. Citizens apparently have no recourse, in his very laissez faire point of view, except by filing a lawsuit for civil damages.

There’s certainly smoke in the Hartford PD – in 2010 when officers were cleared of wrong-doing, and now a relatively short period later, after another two incidents. Sorrell ought to be hosing down the source of the smoke and not simply wagging his finger at those mischievous pyros while waiting for six-foot flames.

5 thoughts on “Stand Clear(ed): AG Sorrel Investigates Hartford PD Again

  1. Sorrel seems to be a smug comfortable insider who has been in this office too long. He never finds any problems to prosecute whether its tazing, illegal arrests and use of force or Vermont Yankee’s endless violations of public safety. He prefers schmoozing with everyone and never rocking the boat of the power structure. He’s been in that job too long, Vote him out.

  2. Sorrell hosing out the fire?  He’s too busy pissing on us.  His hand is full.  Or, as Perry just said, Good Ole Boys Will Be Good Ole Boys.  

  3. The entire law enforcement system in VT, for the most part is extremely corrupt & unjust, one of the the primary reasons is Sorrell. They all work together to insure the success of each other at the expense of the taxpayer and those abused & victimized by their corruption. The VSP is better, but still plenty of sketchiness there as well. Corrections, judicial & LE will never be reformed until he is gone forever. There are careers in all of the aforementioned including the lawyers which depend on a steady stream of penny-ante small time law-breakers.

    Safely under Sorrell’s watch local PD’s have displayed the conduct of jackbooted skinheads. Ordinary citizens can be & are routinely assaulted. I have had my own many diffuculties involving harrassment & other misc run-ins, fortunately I have been able to deal w/them at the local level but have seen the criminal justice system circus including judiciary, state & local PD’s in several towns up close & personal, also observing the treatment of friends & family members who have foolishly or unfortunately been caught in the web of this system which is reliant upon corruption of all players in the game to exist.

    I know for a fact that the scandal involving falsely calibrated AlcSensors is REAL & likely resulted in jail time for some, ruined lives & reputations for others. Gee, I wonder who would want those gadgets altered & how high up the chain of command that edict came from.  

    Once on the radar, these individuals are dogged forever, so-called “priors” gives LE enhanced methods to further violate citizens rights. It is difficult to get off even when obeying the law. Once arraigned, they are herded like cattle through the court appointed lawyers who pressure ALL, even cases where the state’s position is very weak to accept a deal which often includes jail time by telling them it’s the best they can do & if they reject it the outcome could be far worse.

    There needs to be a complete statewide investigation excluding LE & those presently employed by the state with citizens coming forward to testify of their experiences. Heads need to roll beginning with Sorrell.


  4. If you can’t just go into anyone’s home, drag them outside and beat them with a heavy weapon and know you can get away with it – because no prosecutor will dare file charges against a cop – then why become a peace officer in the first place?

    Good thing the 4th Amendment has been legislated out of existence so we don’t have to worry about that damned Constitution.  

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