By MIKE FAHER
BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro Police Sgt. Mark Carignan was "legally justified in the use of deadly force" when he shot and killed a man during execution of a search warrant April 4, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office has ruled.
Attorney General William Sorrell on Thursday announced his findings after a nearly three-month investigation into the death of 35-year-old Michael Santiago at America’s Best Inn in Brattleboro.
A press release says Santiago initially slammed his hotel-room door shut, ignored commands to show officers his hands and "kept his right hand concealed behind his back." In spite of warnings that he could be shot, the attorney general says, Santiago "advanced toward the officers while moving his right shoulder and arm -- an officer described the motion as being consistent with drawing a firearm."
Carignan fired his shotgun twice and paramedics were summoned, but Santiago subsequently died on scene. Police found heroin on Santiago and in the hotel room, but they did not find any firearms, the report says.
"Under the facts of this case, the Attorney General’s Office concluded that Sgt. Carignan was reasonable in his belief that he and the other officers executing the search warrant were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury when he fired at Michael Santiago," officials wrote. "Given what reasonably appeared to be a serious threat to his life and to the life of the other officers, Sgt. Carignan’s response of using deadly force was reasonable and justified. The Bennington County State’s Attorney’s Office has completed a separate and independent review of the investigation and has reached the same conclusion."