State Prosecutors Will Not File Charges In Fatal Police Shooting On I-89

Jun 1, 2018

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan announced Friday he will not bring criminal charges against two police officers who shot a man on the side of Interstate 89 in February.

State Trooper Christopher Brown and Richmond Police Cpl. Rick Greenough killed Benjamin Gregware of Sheldon on Feb. 11.

Gregware's ex-wife alerted police that he was driving while intoxicated, had just bought ammunition and "seemed distraught,” according to the Attorney General’s Office. Police contacted Gregware by phone and he told them he intended to "end it."

Police reached Gregware on the phone and later located him on the highway. Gregware eventually pulled to the side of the interstate, followed by Brown and Greenough.

In video of the incident released by Vermont State Police, Brown and Greenough are heard telling Gregware repeatedly to “drop the gun,” while Gregware is in his vehicle. Gregware is then seen exiting his vehicle with a gun in his right hand pointed to his head, and his left hand raised in the air.

Gregware walks toward the officers who continue telling him to “drop the gun.” A few seconds later, the officers open fire, and Gregware falls to the ground.

After handcuffing him and checking him for other weapons, officers gave first aid to Gregware. He was then taken the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, where he was pronounced dead.

At a press conference Friday, Donovan defended the four months it took to determine his office would not file charges.

"This was the killing and death of a citizen by law enforcement in our state,” Donovan said. “We should take our time to do a thorough, independent review of the state police investigation, and so we make no apologies for the time it took to make our decision."

Two other police shootings in recent months — one in Montpelier and one in Poultney — also resulted in no charges against officers.

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George said prosecutors look at each case individually.

"Cops are put in really horrific circumstances all the time and they don't shoot people, and sometimes they have to. And if a case comes through where it is not justified, they will be charged,” George said.

Officials with the Richmond Police Department said Greenough is now back on patrol after taking several weeks off following the shooting.

According to Vermont State Police, Brown is on administrative duty. Now that prosecutors have reviewed the case, state police plan to assess Brown’s status. Brown also fired shots in two other police shootings in the approximately six months prior to the killing of Gregware.