Latest police body cam footage release shows officers benefit from transparency

BURLINGTON — The latest release of police body camera footage appears to benefit the officer who got into a physical confrontation with a local man who died days later.

On March 11, Burlington Police Officer Cory Campbell interacted with Douglas Kilburn, 54, at the University of Vermont Medical Center. After the men exchanged punches, Kilburn returned to his home with injuries, and died days later.

Before a judge ordered Campbell’s body camera footage to be released on July 1, the public only knew of the police officer’s blows to Kilburn. Chief medical examiner Steven Shaprio ruled the death a homicide.

However, the video showed that Kilburn twice punched Campbell in the face first, forcing Campbell to retaliate in apparent self-defense.

Wikimedia Commons/Ryan Johnson

BEING WATCHED: Body-cam footage has changed the way policing is held accountable, and the public too, because people know to be more accountable for their actions when they know that they are being recorded.

The video also shows some of the events leading up to the altercation. Kilburn is starting to leave the hospital when Officer Campbell curses at him to get moving, at which point Kilburn gets irate and gets back out of the car. Then the physical altercation began.

The footage was not initially released because the city and the police department did not approve the release. It wasn’t until the Burlington Police Officers’ Association won a public records lawsuit against the city that the footage was made public.

The footage shows two different interactions between the two men on the same day. Campbell received a call from the hospital after Kilburn became confrontational. Campbell arrived and de-escalated the situation. The men even shook hands after the whole ordeal.

While the Vermont State Police did an initial investigation, the Attorney General’s office is doing a final review before determining if there will be any charges against Campbell. In the meantime, Campbell has been on restricted duty, meaning he’s not able to do all his usual work out in the community.

Research has shown that the advent of body camera technology has had positive effects on law enforcement, both for the police and the public. Arizona State University did a study in 2014 that determined that officers who wear cameras end up making more arrests with fewer complaints from the public.

The same study found that officers wearing body cameras were more likely to engage with the public in positive interactions and have improved community relations.

A 2018 article in the National Institute of Justice cites Sir Robert Peel, the “father of modern-day policing,” who emphasized the importance of maintaining trust between the public and police.

“The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior, and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect,” Peel said in his Nine Principals of Law Enforcement written in 1829.

Ali Dieng, city councilor for Ward 7, also noted that the cameras seem to help protect both the public and the police alike.

“Sometimes it’s not only about what took place but also how do we defend and protect our officers,” he said. “This is a way to protect them from accusations, if those body cameras work right then definitely many things will come to light if they are made public and the community will have a better understanding of the specific situations because those body cameras work.”

Meanwhile, the city is in the process of forming a special 15-member committee comprised of police, city leaders and social justice activists who will review police tactics.

Dieng, who voted against the creation of a special committee, said the police department should be coming up with the initial policy review and proposals.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Ryan Johnson

6 thoughts on “Latest police body cam footage release shows officers benefit from transparency

  1. Great article Michael,

    Republicans need to support and get this money to defend our police officers. They need to push the strongly with the super majority in place. It will show their true colors, the Supermajority will not support body cams all the while claiming he cops are corrupt.

    They don’t want to solve the issue, they want to keep people divided over a perceived and fabricated police brutality, because it’s a good election and division strategy. The weakness and it’s a serious weakness of the DNC, SJW Platform that is handed down to us from a national platform is they don’t want peace and prosperity, as they would completely lose power, it’s how they keep their base.

    There is so much a small group of conservatives could do and take advantage of, ONLY in the current situation where the Democrats have a supermajority. With their super majority a disciplined group of conservatives could expose the shame from the DNC/SJW group for what they truly are.

  2. Maybe instead of indoctrinating kids and teaching them how to protest, we should offer a class on what to do if a police officer asks you to do something. It would be a pretty easy class. Here is the quiz
    1. When a police officer asks you to do something you should….
    A. Reach into your pocket
    B. Holler at the officer and start a fight
    C. Run
    D. Do what the officer asks you to do

  3. It’s refreshing to see that the rush to judgement suggesting Officer Campbell may have used unnecessary excessive force just doesn’t hold up. Three cheers for body cams.

    • There was a comment on the other site.

      How come the hospital didn’t find a cracked cranium on the first visit, but they did on the autopsy. Perhaps the gentleman fell down at home in those three days? Do they know for sure it was from the punch?

      Everything is written in context of cop bad, criminal abused. AKA Propaganda

  4. If he had said only yes sir, no sir and kept his hands to himself he’d be alive. Idiot thinks he gets a free swing at the cop deserved what he got. Law of the jungle..

  5. Good, it’s about time the police step up and covers there Butts, this just shows another
    loudmouth blowhard thought he was the tough guy, why in the hell would he think it was
    going to end well when you hit a police officer !!

    But like always, it’s the cops fault ……………………..Liberals in politics.

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