Vermont cop’s fatal shot deemed ‘justified’

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Detective Shaun Hewitt

By Doug La Rocque

The shooting death of a Castleton man by a Fair Haven police officer was justified, according to Rutland County State’s Attorney Ian Sullivan.

Detective Shaun Hewitt responded to Washington Street for report of an altercation between neighbors involving a weapon. Kenneth Barber Jr., 38, is alleged to have escaped the grasp of those attempting to restrain him, jumped into a car and, according to authorities, drove at and struck Detective Hewitt.

Hewitt then fired his weapon, striking Barber, who later died from his wounds.

According to Sullivan’s 38-page report, Barber was on furlough from the Vermont State Department of Corrections at the time as the result of a second-degree murder conviction.

“Barber’s actions placed Detective Hewitt in imminent  danger of death or serious bodily injury,” Sullivan said. “Detective Hewitt’s background knowledge of Mr. Barber’s capacity for homicidal violence and extraordinarily dangerous driving both reinforced the peril he faced. The deadly force Detective Hewitt used was a justifiable response to the danger he faced.”

Police chief reacts

NYVT Media reached out to Fair Haven Police Chief William Humphries, who said “This appeared consistent with what we believed during this investigation. It is an unfortunate situation for all involved. As police officers this is never a situation we want to be in. The officer will have to live with this. Mr. Barber was also someone’s child, friend, family member and the decisions that led up to this affects everyone.

In Vermont, such officer-involved shootings are jointly investigated by the county’s State’s Attorney and the Vermont Attorney General. Typically, both offices release their findings simultaneously but, in this case, AG Charity Clark’s office said they have not yet finished their investigation and would have no further comment. State’s Attorney Sullivan noted his probe included comments from Vermont State police investigators, witnesses and Hewitt, as well as video recordings.