Courts & Corrections

Police: Weapon pointed at troopers was a BB gun

police shooting
Police say this is one of two BB guns they recovered from Michael Battles, who was killed by an officer early Friday in Poultney. Vermont State Police photo

Lyle Decker
Sgt. Lyle Decker. VSP photos
Vermont State Police said Saturday that a silver revolver a Poultney man pointed at officers during an early Friday morning standoff, prompting troopers to open fire and kill him, was a BB gun.

Police also identified Saturday the five troopers who fired shots in the standoff that left Michael Battles, 32, dead.

The ongoing investigation, police said in a statement Saturday, has since determined that a silver revolver Battles held in his right hand when he was shot and another handgun in a holster in his belt were BB guns.

Eric Vitali
Trooper Eric Vitali
Police said Saturday they also recovered a muzzleloader rifle from above the window where Battles was standing before he was shot.

The standoff began Thursday afternoon when a deputy was called to Battles’ residence on Finel Hollow Road in Poultney for a reported domestic assault. Police said they tried numerous times to get Battles’ to leave the home “peacefully,” but he refused.

Matthew Cannon
Trooper Matthew Cannon
Police said shortly after 2 a.m. Friday that Battles pointed a gun at officers from a second-story window of his home. Officers then fired on him, police said. Battles was found dead on the floor on the second story of the residence.

At the time of the shooting, police said they had an arrest warrant for Battles on a felony charge of aggravated domestic assault.

Also, Saturday morning, an autopsy was performed on Battles’ body at the chief medical examiner’s office in Burlington.

Christopher Brown
Trooper Christopher Brown
Preliminary autopsy results, according to police, indicate that Battles sustained a single gunshot to the head, causing his death. The manner of death is homicide, police said, adding that is a legal term meaning killed by another person.

The state police investigation will be reviewed by the Rutland County state’s attorney and attorney general’s office to determine if the officers were justified in their use of deadly force, which is customary for all officer-involved shootings.

Michael Anderson
Trooper Michael Anderson
The investigation is continuing, and a news release issued Saturday from state police stated it was “extremely tedious in part due to multiple rounds having been fired from multiple officers that were involved.”

The five troopers identified as firing shots are:

– Sgt. Lyle Decker, St. Johnsbury barracks, hired July 12, 2004.

– Trooper Matthew Cannon, St. Albans barracks, hired Jan. 16, 2012.

– Trooper Eric Vitali, Westminster barracks, hired July 11, 2005.

– Trooper Christopher Brown, Middlesex barracks, hired Jan. 16, 2012.

– Trooper Michael Anderson, St. Albans barracks, hired June 15, 2011.

The five officers involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave consistent with state police policy.

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