Recently released surveillance video footage revealed a Vermont police officer beating a handcuffed woman for no justifiable reason. After an investigation into the assault, the officer was terminated from the department.
On March 14, Amy Connelly was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly tearing a man’s shirt at a bar and refusing to leave Shooters Saloon. Handcuffed and locked in a holding cell at the St. Albans Police Department, Connelly was recorded on video kicking the door to her cell.
Sgt. Jason Lawton suddenly opens her door and says, “Listen to me. Don’t kick my door. Okay?”
As Connelly calmly stands up, Sgt. Lawton orders her to sit down when she abruptly refuses. Without warning, Lawton strikes her in the face which sends her back down onto the bench in her cell.
“How fucking dare you?” Connelly asks Lawton before turning to another officer and declaring, “He has hurt me!”
“Shut up!” Lawton commands.
As Connelly begins to stand up again, she appears to lift one of her legs when Lawton slams her to the bench and punches her in the face.
“You fucking kicked me!” Lawton exclaims although the video does not clearly show if Connelly kicks him or not.
Lawton and two other officers slam her to the floor before informing her that she will now be charged with assault. Sobbing on the ground, Connelly asks them, “Why would you do this? Why?”
Connelly was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct, two counts of unlawful mischief, two counts of simple assault, and resisting arrest.
Lawton was placed on administrative leave. On July 1, the police sergeant was fired after an internal investigation into the incident.
One of the other officers resigned, and another officer currently remains under investigation.
“He is a bully to a young woman who is distraught, who has handcuffs behind her back, in a three by three holding cell and it’s beyond the pale,” stated Jay Diaz of the ACLU of Vermont. “He is clearly an officer who should not have been a police officer because of how he behaves. It’s readily apparent.”
In 2013, Lawton allegedly made a false claim that a motorist ran a red light prior to a traffic stop. Dash cam video proved otherwise. That incident reportedly led to a federal lawsuit and a settlement.
No criminal charges have been filed against Lawton. He is currently appealing his termination from the St. Albans Police Department.