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Cop pleads not guilty to aggravated assault, reckless endangerment in drug stakeout shooting

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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vermont — A police officer who shot a man during a drug stakeout has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and reckless endangerment.

Windsor police Officer Ryan Palmer was indicted Wednesday stemming from the Nov. 18 shooting of Jorge Burgos.

Police said that they texted Burgos, of Quechee, and his girlfriend to lure them to meet in a parking lot and that the two were wanted by authorities in two states at the time. Palmer and Officer Christopher Connor wore plain clothes over their uniforms and weapons when they drove to the meeting, police reports said.

As police cruisers arrived with lights flashing, Burgos backed up in his car to the edge of the parking lot and accelerated toward Palmer with the intent of running over him and Connor, police said. Palmer avoided being struck by Burgos' car by sidestepping and shooting his firearm, they said.

Palmer shot Burgos multiple times.

Prosecutors later dismissed aggravated-assault charges against Burgos.

Vermont Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine said he's not allowed to comment on the strength of his case against Palmer. But he said a grand jury looked at the evidence and decided to move forward with the indictment.

Palmer's lawyer, Daniel Sedon, said Palmer is confident he acted appropriately.

"We'll present our case to a jury where the defense can appear and can make the arguments that this was a lawful use of force, he acted properly that day and we're confident he will be acquitted," he said.

Palmer was released Thursday but is not allowed to possess a firearm. The Windsor town manager said he has been suspended.

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