By Alan Keays, VTDigger
Vermont State Police say a man who pointed a gun at officers during a standoff early Friday at his home in Poultney was shot and killed when five troopers opened fire.
After the shooting, police said they went into the residence and found Michael Battles, 32, dead on the floor in the second-story of his house at 1703 Finel Hollow Road shortly after 2 a.m.
Moments earlier, police said Battles pointed a revolver down at officers from a second-story window of the home, prompting five troopers to fire multiple rounds from rifles at him.
Battles’ body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the official cause and manner of his death, Vermont State Police said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.
The five troopers involved in this shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave consistent with state police policy, the statement added.
Police said they were trying to arrest Battles on a charge of aggravated domestic assault from an incident that took place hours earlier.
The standoff stretched from Thursday afternoon through early Friday morning, with officers from several agencies responding as well as a state police “tactical vehicle” that was brought in and parked in front of Battles’ residence.
A Rutland County Sheriff’s Department’s deputy was first called to the home Thursday afternoon for a reported domestic assault, according to the statement. At the scene, the deputy met with a woman at another residence who said that Battles had assaulted her and threatened to kill her before she fled with Battles chasing after her, the release stated.
The woman told police that Battles assaulted her again in a neighbor’s yard, and a witness reported seeing the woman being dragged to the ground and assaulted. Rescue workers later said they saw injuries to the woman’s face and body.
A state police trooper went to the scene to help the deputy and both officers went to Battles’ home and tried to speak with him, knocking on the door and getting no response. Moments later, police said, Battles began yelling at them from an open second-floor window.
“Battles refused to come down stating that officers would not hear his side or give him a chance and would just arrest him,” the release stated.
Battles got angry, police said, and shut the window. Officers moved back to their cruisers when he opened the window again, police said, telling them he had an “arsenal” inside and if they came in for him it “would be real hard and he would have to give it to the officers.”
Battles then began rapping on the window with an object, that police said could have been a gun, prompting the officers to seek cover. At one point, the officers reported hearing Battles say “something to the effect” of “suicide by cop.”
Officers from several law enforcement departments and agencies then arrived, including more members of the state police and sheriff’s department as well as Castleton and Fair Haven police.
Battles remained inside the home, police said, refusing to come out, with officers reporting hearing him say “statements to the effect that he had ‘nothing to live for,’ and that he would come outside but it wouldn’t end well.”
The Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit and the Crisis Negotiation Unit were also called to the scene and at about 11 p.m. Thursday, police said, the negotiator tried to contact Battles but received no response.
Eventually, according to police, the negotiator used the loudspeaker on a state police tactical vehicle that had arrived and was parked in front of the home. Battles did respond, police said, but told them he would never leave the residence.
At about 12:20 a.m. Friday a judge granted police a search warrant for the residence to determine if there were firearms inside. The judge also approved an arrest warrant for Battles on a charge of aggravated domestic assault with bail set at $100,000.
After numerous more tries to negotiate with Battles failed, police said troopers breached the residence’s front door using a tactical vehicle at about 1:40 a.m. Battles then appeared in the doorway and at one point stepped out onto the porch, according to police.
Troopers saw what they believed to be a holster on his side but nothing in his hands at that time, police said. He then went back into the residence, police added, and shut the door, and remained out of sight.
Shortly after 2 a.m. police said troopers saw Battles through a second-story window above the front door “brandishing” a lit flashlight with both hands pointing it out the window as if it were a gun.
“Troopers heard Battles say something to the effect of ‘wait until you see this’ and ‘you’re gonna get more than you expected,’” the statement issued by state police read.
“Troopers lost sight of Battles in the window for a short time and then observed him reappear holding a silver revolver and pointing it downward at the troopers on the ground,” the statement added. ”Fearing for their safety, troopers responded immediately by firing multiple rounds at Battles who then dropped to the floor.”
Upon entering the residence, Battles was found dead on the floor in front of the second-story window, according to police. Battles, police said, had a silver revolver in his right hand and what appeared to be a second firearm inside a holster on his hip. Police said five troopers, all members of the Tactical Services Unit, fired multiple rounds from their department-issued patrol rifles.
Police are not releasing the identities of the troopers at this time. Under the department’s policy, the names of the troopers are withheld for 24 hours or “as otherwise determined” by the commissioner of public safety.
A preliminary investigation, police said, revealed that Battles had felony convictions, which would prohibit him from possessing firearms.
Also, Battles was on probation for retail theft, unlawful mischief, leaving the scene of an accident, violating the conditions of his release, disorderly conduct that had initially been charged as domestic assault.
This investigation by state police is ongoing and once complete will be turned over to the Rutland County state’s attorney’s and Vermont Attorney General’s Office for independent reviews as is customary for all officer involved shootings.
Police issued a press release a little before 5 p.m. Friday, about 15 hours after the shooting.
“It’s a process that takes time,” Scott Waterman, state police spokesman, said Friday night. “This is a sensitive situation that required care for many people and the state police determined the best time for that press release was when it came out because they followed this process.”
A call to state police Maj. Glenn Hall, commander of the state police criminal division, was not immediately returned Friday. Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy also could not immediately be reached Friday for comment.