Shriver steps aside in Putney Road shooting investigation
BRATTLEBORO -- Tracy Shriver, Windham County State's Attorney, announced Wednesday her office will not be reviewing an investigation report on the death of Michael J. Santiago, 35, of Brattleboro, who was shot and killed by a Brattleboro Police Officer just before 6 a.m. on April 4.
The investigation, which is currently ongoing, is being conducted by the Vermont State Police. Normally, when an investigation is complete, the local state's attorney's office and the Vermont Attorney General's Office review the investigation report.
"So there can be no question as to the integrity and impartiality of this dual review process," wrote Shriver in a press release, "my office will no longer be involved in the investigation of the shooting at America's Best Inn due to our close working relationship with the Brattleboro Police Department."
Responsibility for reviewing the investigation report has been turned over to Erica Marthage, Bennington County State's Attorney.
Santiago was killed during the service of a search warrant of a room at the hotel on Putney Road. The search warrant was part of an ongoing drug investigation, according to police reports.
The police officer who shot and killed Santiago has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation. The officer has not yet been named, though his identity is expected to be revealed either when the report is completed or when the review by Marthage and the Vermont Attorney General's Office is complete.
According to police reports, during the initial entry into the hotel room, a Brattleboro Police officer discharged a duty weapon, striking Santiago. Rescue personnel were staged nearby and responded immediately to the scene. The male subject was pronounced deceased by medical personnel at the scene.
Santiago was no stranger to the law. On Nov. 12, 2013, he was arrested and cited with aggravated assault on a police officer, theft from a motor vehicle and credit card fraud. An investigation led police to Santiago and when police attempted to speak with him, he attempted to flee and a struggle ensued. During the struggle, Santiago assaulted a police officer, according to a press release. He was one of three people suspected of committing a rash of thefts from motor vehicles in late October and early November.
Nine days later, police responded to Walnut Street for the report of a theft from a vehicle. Officers saw Santiago fleeing the scene on foot. He was arrested and cited with petit larceny and being in possession of burglar's tools.
In 2009, Santiago was arrested on Putney Road for driving with a criminally suspended license.
No other details about the shooting or the drug investigation that led up to it have been released and the Windham County's State's Attorney's Office, the Brattleboro Police Department and the Vermont State Police have refused to discuss the incident until the investigation is over.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.
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