Vermont Business Magazine During the early morning hours of Friday, September 1, Troopers from the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit shot and killed an adult male, identified as Michael Battles, age 32 of Poultney, VT. This shooting occurred during a standoff at Battles’ residence located at 1703 Finel Hollow Road in Poultney as Troopers were attempting to apprehend Battles for Aggravated Domestic Assault that occurred earlier the previous day.
Crime Scene Search Team members began processing the scene Friday afternoon and continued into the evening. The scene was secured overnight and processing continued Saturday. This process is extremely tedious in part due to multiple rounds having been fired from multiple officers that were involved. On Friday evening the body of Michael Battles was removed and transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington. Prior to removal of the deceased, detectives recovered a silver colored revolver from his right hand and a black colored hand gun from a holster on his belt. Upon inspection, both of these guns were determined to be BB guns. In addition, detectives discovered a Muzzleloader rifle located above the window where Battles was standing prior to being shot. Attached are photographs of the two BB guns that were recovered.
Saturday morning, the autopsy was performed at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Preliminary autopsy results indicate that Battles sustained a single gunshot to the head, causing his death. The manner of death is homicide, a legal term meaning killed by another person. This shooting investigation will be reviewed by the Rutland County State’s Attorney and Attorney General to determine if the officers were justified in their use of deadly force.
The identities of the five troopers that discharged their department issued firearms during this shooting are revealed below, included with their current assignment and time of service with the Vermont State Police. Official department photographs are attached. No further information is available at this time, investigation is ongoing.
Vermont State Police detectives from the Major Crime Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigations responded to investigate. Preliminary investigation has revealed the following:
On Thursday afternoon, 08/31/17, a deputy with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Office responded to a reported domestic complaint at 1703 Finel Hollow Road in Poultney. Upon arrival, the deputy met with a female victim at another residence on Finel Hollow Road. The victim reported that her fiancé, Michael Battles had physically assaulted her and verbally threatened to kill her while at their residence. The victim advised that she feared for her life and thought she was going to die. The victim described fleeing her house on foot and Battles pursued her and assaulted her again in the neighbor’s yard. A witness reported seeing the victim being dragged to the ground and assaulted. The witness heard the victim say that he had just beat her and choked her. The victim had sustained visible injuries to her face and body and was seen by responding rescue personnel.
A Vermont State Trooper from the Rutland barracks responded to assist the deputy. Both officers went to the residence at 1703 Finel Hollow Road in an attempt to speak with Battles. Officers began knocking on the door and received no response. A short time later Battles appeared in a second story window, opened it and began shouting down to the officers. Battles refused to come down stating that officers would not hear his side or give him a chance and would just arrest him. Battles became angry, was yelling at the officers and shut the window. Officers moved back to their cruisers and Battles opened the same window and began yelling that he had an arsenal in the house and that if they wanted to come in for him it would be ‘real hard and he would have to give it to the officers’. Officers then observed Battles rapping an object against the window that the officers believed could have been a gun so the officers responded by taking a position of cover. Officers heard Battles, at one point, say something to the effect of ‘suicide by cop’.
Officers backed off, established a perimeter and requested assistance. Officers from multiple agencies responded, including the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, Vermont State Police, Castleton Police, and Fair Haven Police. Battles remained inside his residence and refused officers’ requests to surrender. Battles continued to communicate by yelling out the window but refused to come out. Battles was heard making statements to the effect that he had ‘nothing to live for’ and that he would come outside but that wouldn’t end well.
Additional law enforcement resources were requested and responded to this scene. These resources included the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit (TSU) and the Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU). After several hours at approximately 11:00 pm, the Tactical Services Unit took over the perimeter and members of the Crisis Negotiation Unit attempted to establish contact with Battles with no response. Troopers began issuing verbal commands from a tactical vehicle located in front of the residence. A CNU negotiator attempted to make contact with Battles over the loudspeaker of the tactical vehicle. Battles did respond verbally that he would come out but then would not leave the residence. The negotiator continued to communicate with Battles in an attempt to convince him to give up peacefully.
At approximately 12:22 am on Friday, 9/1/17, a Superior Court Judge reviewed and signed a search warrant for the residence at 1703 Finel Hollow Road to search for Michael Battles and any firearms within the residence. An arrest warrant was also approved for Michael Battles on the charge of Aggravated Domestic Assault, bail was set at $100,000.
Following continuous attempts to negotiate with Battles, at approximately 1:40 am, Troopers breached the front door utilizing the tactical vehicle. Battles then appeared in the doorway and at one point stepped out onto the porch. Troopers observed what they believed to be a holster on his side but nothing in his hands at that time. They described him as being agitated and he failed to comply with orders from the negotiator. Battles was heard saying something to the effect of “guess you will have to shoot me” and then retreated back into the house and shut the door. Battles remained out of site for a period of time while the negotiator attempted to re-establish communication. Shortly after 2:00 am, troopers observed Battles through a second story window located above the front door. Troopers observed Battles first 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”. Troopers lost sight of Battles in the window for a short time and then observed him re-appear holding a silver revolver and pointing it downward at the troopers on the ground. Fearing for their safety, troopers responded immediately by firing multiple rounds at Battles who then dropped to the floor.
Upon entry into the residence, Battles was located deceased on the floor inside the second story window. Battles had a silver revolver in his right hand and what appeared to be a second firearm inside a holster on his hip. The scene was secured and is currently being processed by the Vermont State Police Crime Scene Search Team. A total of five troopers, all members of the Tactical Services Unit, fired multiple rounds from their department issued patrol rifles. The deceased, Michael Battles will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine official cause and manner of death.
Detectives are working closely with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department and Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office. Preliminary investigation has revealed that Michael Battles has an extensive criminal history to include felony convictions and he is prohibited from possessing firearms. Battles is currently on probation effective 03/17/17 for Retail Theft, Unlawful Mischief, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Violation of Conditions of Release, and Disorderly Conduct resulting from an initial charge of Domestic Assault.
This investigation remains active and once complete will be turned over to the Rutland County State’s Attorney and Attorney General’s Office for independent reviews as is customary for all officer involved shootings. The troopers involved in this shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave consistent with State Police policy.
Sergeant Lyle Decker – St. Johnsbury Barracks – Hired July 12, 2004;
Trooper Matthew Cannon – St. Albans Barracks – Hired January 16, 2012;
Trooper Eric Vitali – Westminster Barracks – Hired July 11, 2005;
Trooper Christopher Brown – Middlesex Barracks – Hired January 16, 2012;
Trooper Michael Anderson – St. Albans Barracks – Hired June 15, 2011.