Defense lawyer gets acquittal of police officer charged with assault, takes media to task

By Guy Page

An Associated Press news story on the Friday, January 18 acquittal of former St. Albans police officer Mark Schwartz for simple assault was lacking in crucial details, Schwartz’s lawyer Robert Kaplan of Burlington concluded. So he’s taken the news service to task.

“As reported by AP (on WCAX and other websites), a jury cleared Schwartz of simple assault charges. Video of the February, 2019 incident can be seen on police body camera video, available on the Seven Days website.

“But the blow-by-blow details of how Schwartz subdued the suspect with a taser were sketchy in the news report. So a day after the AP story hit the news wire, Kaplan issued his own — and, he says, much more complete — account of the incident that landed the former cop on trial for unnecessary force in the tasing of a man on Main Street in St. Albans City. In a letter to AP, Kaplan wrote:

“This was a one day trial on Friday. The State did not have an expert witness. The defense called Steve Ijames. I have attached his CV and his report in this case. The Vermont Attorney General regularly relies on Mr. Ijames as their expert witness in use of force cases. Mr. Ijames has also done high level training for the Vermont State Police. He testified on behalf of Mark Schwartz and was clear and consistent that Mark Schwartz’s use of the taser was within the standards for police practices and was an appropriate choice in this arrest.

“If you had attended the trial you would have learned:

  1. Mark Schwartz is a military veteran who completed the Army’s Mountain Warfare School;
  2. Mark Schwartz was among the most highly trained officers at St. Albans PD;
  3. Mark Schwartz was the use of force instructor and taser instructor for St. Albans PD;
  4. Mark Schwartz was selected to be on the Franklin County SRT (SWAT) Team;
  5. In 2018, Mark Schwartz made 25% of all arrests for St. Albans PD;
  6. Mark Schwartz routinely worked multiple overtime shifts per week, in addition to SRT training, because St. Albans PD was badly understaffed;
  7. Vincent Ford was fleeing from Mark Schwartz and was not under Mark Schwartz’s control when the taser was deployed;
  8. Mark Schwartz’s use of the taser to arrest Vincent Ford was reviewed and cleared by St. Albans PD several times;
  9. Mark Schwartz was not disciplined or reprimanded by St. Albans PD for using his taser to apprehend Vincent Ford;
  10. Mark Schwartz resigned from policing due to burn-out from overwork and exhaustion;
  11. The VSP investigation did not include interviewing any witnesses;
  12. The Attorney General, and not Vermont State Police, made the decision to issue Mark Schwartz a citation for the crime of simple assault.
  13. Mark Schwartz remains certified as a law enforcement officer in Vermont and could return to policing if he chose to.

“In addition to these facts, an investigative reporter would have discovered:

  1. Vincent Ford has been arrested multiple times since this event and had faced charges including multiple assaults on first responders and is facing similar charges now
  2. On November 11, 2019, Mark Schwartz responded to a call and discovered that Nicholas Luciano had been repeatedly stabbed by his roommate and was near death.  Mark Schwartz was the only St. Albans PD officer with combat casualty training.  Mark Schwartz immediately used his own, non-department issued tourniquet kit to save Mr. Luciano’s life.  Mark Schwartz was issued an award for this event.”

Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of St. Albans Police Department
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7 thoughts on “Defense lawyer gets acquittal of police officer charged with assault, takes media to task

  1. Good follow-up reporting that shows why people should not be swayed by current trends or knee-jerk reactions based upon beliefs. This is espcially true in regards to law enforcement where there is too much emotional response and often not enough resort to reason these days.
    While glad we have a system of justice where a wrongly accused officer can get exonerated, it appears that this case should not have been brought in the first place.

  2. The media is the enemy, they push for non lethal use to subdue criminals then push that it’s overly aggressive when used. Same as joke biden the potato head tells everyone cops don’t need to kill offenders just shoot them in the knees..it’s easy to complain about cops if you’ve never been one or been in the situations they are in all the time When the media gets back to reporting facts over fiction and stops covering for the left they may gain some respect. I strongly doubt that will happen in my life time.They will probably all go bankrupt first.

  3. I do not know why anyone would want to be a law enforcement officer in Vermont. Not only is it risky by it’s nature, it is made doubly risky when you have to look over your shoulder to see if the state you work for is going to stab you in the back for your efforts! Really sad actually.

  4. The difference between agenda/propaganda and real news/court cases are staggering.

    Great job Guy……too bad nobody in Vermont will see this in 7 days, VT Digger, VPR……etc.

  5. Whenever a case of what is presented to a court as “overzealous policing”, there is opportunity for a judge or jury to exercise some level of activism at the expense of justice. With such anti-police sentiment being propagandized into society by the BLM-friendly media, there is the temptation for members of a jury to virtue-signal and assume excessive force. Thanks go out to the members of this jury for apparently ignoring the public sentiment and instead ruling on the facts. It’s sad to see an apparently exemplary peace officer leave the force because the standards that have been placed on their performance of essential duties have become unreasonable and politicized. Thank you for your service, Officer Schwartz, and thank you Guy Page for presenting these facts in his defense.

  6. Welcome to Progressive-Socialist- La-La-Land… Vermont’s now a wasteland of few morals, truth, or integrity. If you are white, a cop and male…you are automatically guilty…… “Guilty till proven innocent”….not “Innocent till proven guilty”.

    This is what Vermont has become. And it won’t change.

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