Winooski, Vermont Police Officer Charged
On Friday, Winooski police officer, Christopher Wattot, was arraigned on Aggravated Domestic Assault and Unlawful Restraint, both of which are felonies. All together Wattot received a total of seven charges against him. The most serious being the two felonies but he also received misdemeanor charges of Domestic Assault (3 counts) and Criminal Threatening (2 counts). Wattot has pleaded not guilty.
The Significance of this Case
Law enforcement has a serious domestic abuse issue that they are not doing anywhere near enough to address. Wattot is a perfect example. Prior to working with the Winooski Police Department, Wattot had been with the South Burlington Police Department. While there, Wattot’s girlfriend had approached two female South Burlington officers and told them about how she had been treated by Wattot. Their advice was to leave him and they said they would speak to him. Policy for South Burlington Police is that any such accusations are to be reported immediately. It never happened.
You would think the officers would follow their policy. They didn’t. You would think that, being female, they would have some sympathy for a woman who was being abused. Though they did seem to show some concern, they still adhered to the thin blue line and protected Wattot. They did speak to him but all that did was make the situation worse for the woman. It let Wattot know she was looking for help but put no constraints on him to keep him from retaliating. This is a stark example of the resistance from officers in reporting domestic abuse by officers.
Since she did not receive any help after her outcry to the officers, the woman began recording the things Wattot said to her. According to the SevenDaysVt.com article,
“Months later, in July 2019, Matott suggested the woman should have her “throat slit” for speaking to the SoBu officers, according to an audio recording she provided to investigators.
“You deserve nothing in life,” he can be heard saying, according to the affidavit. “I will kill every single person important to you.””
Wattot’s girlfriend claims that he has attacked her on many occasions, including when she was pregnant, threatened to kill her and has even pointed his gun at their dogs threatening to kill them. She says Wattot claims to have killed many people while in the army. No doubt that, along with the violence she had already endured, made his threats to kill her even more believable to his girlfriend.
Finally Some Help
Wattot’s girlfriend took her recordings and complaint to a judge to try to get an extreme risk protection order. That order, approved by the judge, required Mattot to turn over all his weapons. This means he cannot do his job and was placed on unpaid administrative leave. Since criminal charges were filed, the District Attorney has decided to drop the extreme risk protection order and let everything proceed under the criminal case.
Possible Discipline for South Burlington Officers
The Police Chief of South Burlington said that an investigation had been opened up into the incident to see if the two female officers violated policy. As a side note, Chief Shawn Burke was not the police chief at the time of the incident. He does approach the investigation in a neutral manner by saying, “‘We’re fighting all the time’ is much different than ‘my partner hit me last night,'” according to the WCAX.com article. We agree. There is a difference; however, we seriously doubt that if the victim finally had gathered up the courage to say something, that all she said was they fight all the time. She needed these women to understand she was scared. She would have said more. But don’t hold your breath waiting on the outcome. Odds are, we’ll never hear the result of South Burlington’s internal investigation.
At this point, we’re just glad that the woman hasn’t been killed and is finally getting some help.
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-(SAFE) 7233
The Battered Women and Children’s Shelter Crisis Hotline 210-930-3669
Note: We recommend reading the SevenDaysVt.com article. It has a lot more detail of what happened. The video below is from the WCAX.com article.