Crime and Justice

Demoted Rutland detective, barred from taking the stand, named beat cop

Rutland
The Rutland police headquarters. File photo by Andrew Kutches/VTDigger

A former Rutland City police detective, whose role in a now-dismissed attempted murder case led a prosecutor to deem him untrustworthy, has now landed an officer’s job in which he isn’t expected to take the witness stand.

Emilio Rosario is Rutland’s new downtown beat cop, a highly visible position. One of his primary duties is writing traffic and parking tickets in the city’s central business district.

Rosario’s move comes several months after Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy wrote a letter to the department stating she would no longer prosecute cases prepared by him.

“It’s a change of assignment,” Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said Monday. “This particular job is a sworn position we think [Rosario] has the skill set for and [it’s] not inconsistent with the restrictions placed on him from the state’s attorney.” 

Asked what would happen if Rosario were called upon to testify in court, Kilcullen replied, “We don’t anticipate any police activity that will result in required testimony.”

If, for example, an assault were to take place downtown and Rosario were called upon to act, the police chief said Rosario, as a sworn officer, would respond, but typically other officers would also likely be called to the scene.

“Again,” Kilcullen said, “we don’t anticipate any issues.”  

In a statement issued by his attorney, Tristram Coffin, Rosario said he was grateful for the new opportunity in the department.

“Since all of this became so public, all I have wanted to do is to continue serving as a law enforcement officer for the City of Rutland,” Rosario said in the statement. “This position will let me do that.  I thank the Chief for his confidence in naming me to this position, and look forward to serving the community in this capacity.”

The document Kennedy sent Rosario last year is often referred to as a Brady or Giglio letter. Such letters require prosecutors to turn over “exculpatory” information to defendants when prosecuting a case, including issues that could affect an officer’s credibility.

The documents, called a “scarlet letter” among police officers and others in the legal world, can end careers in law enforcement since they would permit defense attorneys to quiz officers on the witness stand about instances in which they have been shown to be dishonest. 

Kennedy, also reached Monday, declined comment on Rosario’s new role with the department.

Rose Kennedy
Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy. Pool photo by Robert Layman/Rutland Herald

Rosario was among the Vermont police officers named in “Tarnished Badge,” a three-part VTDigger series last December that revealed the identities of all 28 cops in the state who have received Brady letters from county prosecutors over the past five years.  

Kennedy issued the letter for Rosario last fall, pointing in part to inaccuracies in a sworn statement and questions of Rosario’s evidence-handling in an attempted murder case that led her to drop the charge. 

In that case Rosario stated in a sworn affidavit that he seized phones, a key piece of evidence in the case, from the suspect’s “person.” But a later review showed at least one of the phones came from the suspect’s car, and an evidence tag indicated that another officer had recovered the phones.

Judge John Pacht later tossed out key evidence following a hearing on Rosario’s actions, including whether he had obtained the proper consent to search a vehicle in the attempted murder case.

The judge also cited two earlier cases in which problems were discovered in the then-detective’s sworn statements. 

“As is the case here,” Pacht wrote in his ruling in the attempted murder case, “these incidents reflect circumstances in which Detective Rosario swore to information that was either misleading, incomplete and/or inaccurate and this leads the court to question the detective’s commitment to the care needed when swearing or affirming to tell the truth.” 

Kilcullen, the police chief, has referred to Rosario’s actions as errors, as well as a lack of attention to detail. He has said they were not intentional, deceitful or misleading.  

Rosario was stripped of his designation as a death scene investigator, dealing a blow to his job as a detective. Such officers are often called upon to handle the most serious cases.

After Kennedy declined to take cases prepared by Rosario and he lost his death scene investigator designation, Rosario was moved to a “non-sworn” position in the records department. Then, following the retirement last month of Kevin Blongy, the longtime beat cop in downtown Rutland, Rosario put in for that position and was granted it.

A three-page agreement between Kilcullen and Rosario sets the conditions that come with his taking the job — and spells out some of his employment history to date.

Brian Kilcullen
Rutland Police Chief Brian A. Kilcullen. Photo by Andrew Kutches/VTDigger

According to the chief’s agreement with Rosario, after the state’s attorney issued the Brady letter, the police department “determined that you could not work in a role in which the Department and State’s Attorney may need to rely on your participation in a prosecution.” 

In addition, the agreement said, Rosario decided in October, after the letter was issued, to take an open position in the records division rather than be “terminated.” 

In the beat officer’s position, according to the agreement, Rosario would be paid $28.15 per hour, which is the pay for a patrol officer with between five and 10 years with the department. 

Rosario, who joined the department in 2013, was making that rate when he was working as a detective. However, the new rate is more than the $25.28 per hour he had most recently been making as a records clerk.

Also, the agreement stated, due to a collective bargaining agreement with the police union, the beat officer position is subject to yearly bidding, meaning someone else could put in for the position. 

If an officer with more seniority were to do so, according to the agreement, Rosario would lose that job and could be terminated unless a position opened up in the records division.

“At this time, I feel that you can effectively carry out the duties of the Beat officer position despite being severely limited by the OSA letter,” Kilcullen wrote, referring to the “Office of the State’s Attorney.”

He added that should his view change he could still remove Rosario from the position. 

The police chief added the circumstances in the case were “unique” and the agreement was not precedent-setting for any employee in the future.

Rosario signed the agreement last week.

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Alan J. Keays

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