Man shot by police to be held for evaluation
BENNINGTON -- A man who asked police to kill him on April 22, and was eventually shot by an officer in the police station's lobby, was ordered held without bail pending the outcome of a mental health evaluation.
Gregory Filo, 42, of Safford Street, pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court on Monday to two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A mental health screener told the court Filo may still be a danger to himself and recommended he be evaluated at an inpatient facility. Judge David Howard agreed and ordered Filo to be returned to court once the evaluation is completed.
Filo appeared in court alongside his attorney, Jeff Rubin, walking under his own power. According to a friend of Filo's, Charles Coppolino, who witnessed the incident and spoke to the Banner about it, Filo was shot once just above his belt line on April 22. Filo was taken to Albany Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., for treatment.
According to a Vermont State Police affidavit, that morning, shortly before 7 a.m., Filo went to the Bennington Police Department and asked an officer to shoot him. Filo agreed to speak with a counselor at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and according to a source he did go to the hospital.
SVMC contracts counselors from United Counseling Service. Howard ordered that UCS not be part of Filo's mental health evaluation as some of its employees may be witnesses in the case.
Where Filo went after the hospital remains unclear, only that he returned to the station at around 8:30 p.m. after leaving his apartment. Coppolino saw Filo leave the building with a knife, and followed him, attempting to get him to turn back, but was unsuccessful.
According to police, in the police station lobby Filo made stabbing gestures at Coppolino, leading a dispatcher to believe Coppolino had been injured. Police went to the lobby with their pistols drawn and ordered Filo to drop the knife, but he did not. Filo was shot once by Sgt. Michael Plusch when he came toward the officers.
Coppolino told the Banner in an interview he was never in fear of his life, despite the police affidavit claiming he told them otherwise. Coppolino also said Filo did not move toward the officers, however he did have the knife raised above his head.
The Bennington Police Department lobby is monitored by cameras, but according to Town Manager Stuart Hurd the cameras do not record and are used by dispatchers to keep an eye on what's happening in the lobby.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.
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