ST. ALBANS — The Vermont Attorney General’s Office announced in a press statement Thursday morning prosecutors have charged Jason Lawton, a former St. Albans Police Dept. officer, with simple assault for striking a 35-year-old Highgate woman in lockup earlier this year.
The SAPD terminated Lawton’s employment after department heads reviewed footage of the incident.
Thursday’s press statement said the Vermont State Police subsequently conducted its own investigation and that the Vermont Attorney General’s Office reviewed that investigation.
VSP arrested Lawton Thursday, processed the charge and released him on a citation to appear in Franklin County Criminal Court Monday for arraignment.
The Messenger will cover that arraignment.
The misdemeanor simple assault charge carries a maximum sentence of one year and/or $1,000 in fines.
Lawton hit Amy Connelly on March 15 while she was in an SAPD holding cell. He described the hit as a “distraction strike” in his court affidavit.
SAPD video footage shows Connelly whimpering and kicking the cell door, then rising and saying no when Lawton tells her to stop, at which point Lawton shoves her back.
She says he hurt her, Lawton tells her not to “come at me like that,” and Connelly raises her leg to kick him in the shin area, at which point Lawton throws her back and hits her in the face.
Connelly was in lockup after allegedly ripping the Shooters Saloon owner’s shirt while intoxicated earlier that night.
Lawton is a 31-year-old Fletcher resident.
He was one of three officers who came under literal fire in Jan. 2018 when a man opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on Lincoln Avenue.