A St. Albans police officer punched a handcuffed woman in the face during a March altercation inside a holding cell, police video filed in Franklin County Superior Court shows.
Franklin County has a reputation for lawlessness in the Green Mountain State as domestic violence, drug crimes, and a wave of fatal crashes continues to dominate headlines. But the lawlessness the lawlessness often attributed to criminal elements in the area appears rivaled only by the lawlessness among public officials – especially officers at the St Alban’s Police Department under the watch of Chief Gary Taylor.
In one of the most recent incidents of police violence against the public, Sgt. Jason Lawton who has a long, documentable history of misconduct, accused a woman, 35 year-old Amy Connelly, of simple assault for kicking him. The incident in question was captured on multiple cameras, including Sgt. Lawton’s own body camera, revealing more than just a different story than the one officially filed by Lawton.
In the video, Amy Connelly, who had previously been arrested on March 14 for a drunken incident during which she tore a man’s shirt, is recorded kicking the door to her holding cell. Sgt. Lawson can be seen eating dinner with a coworker prior to the incident when he stops, opens the cell and orders her to stop kicking the door.
Lawton refuses to obey Sgt. Lawton’s demand. That’s when the assault begins.
Video reveals an ugly scene where Lawton – not Connelly – initiates violence by slamming her into the wall, causing her to cry out. She then attempt to push him away with her leg.
Lawton then punches Connelly in the face and says, “You fucking kicked me!” Lawton complains. “That was real stupid, real stupid, OK?” he says before he and two other officers force Connelly face-first onto the ground.
According to Lawton’s report, however, he describes punching Connelly as a “distraction strike” and states “it had its desired effect…”
The false report is not the first time officer Lawton has been caught making false statement only to be exposed later by his own cameras.
In 2012, while Lawton worked for the Shelburne Police Department, he stopped a driver, Rod Maclver, for running a red light and issued the man a ticket. Maclver contested the charge against him and the case went to court where Lawton gave false testimony later refuted by the officer’s own dash cam. The case against Maclver was thrown out of court and a civil suit was filed resulting in an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount due to Lawton’s unprofessional conduct and false testimony. Soon after Lawton left the Shelburne Police Department and joined the force in St Albans where he and several other officers have been investigated for a variety of offenses against the public including a recent controversial shooting of an armed man which drew a great deal of public scrutiny but was never prosecuted by the State’s Attorney, T.J. Donavan.
After an investigation that began in June, Sgt. Lawton has since been terminated. However, it is difficult for members of the public to dismiss his poor conduct and criminal violence against an unarmed, handcuffed woman in police custody due to the fact that many other officers with the St Alban’s police have been accused of similar and far worse crimes.