At the time of the alleged violation, police say, Eric Howley, 40, of West Dover, was on duty as a sworn member of the Vermont State Police.
According to state police, Howley was at Lake Raponda looking for his stolen canoe at about 4:30 pm on Sunday, April 8. While he was there, he saw a canoe in the water with two occupants, and identified the boat as his personal canoe that had been reported stolen to the Wilmington Police Department earlier in the day. Howley confronted the two occupants of the canoe when they came to shore and, according to witnesses, Howley assaulted them.
Police say other members of the state police immediately reported the incident to the Wilmington Police department. Wilmington police requested the assistance of the Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Detectives from outside the area were called in to conduct an investigation and an internal review was conducted pursuant to state police policy. Howley was immediately placed on administrative leave on April 8. Howley tendered his resignation on Monday, May 14. Howley was issued a citation to appear in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division on Tuesday, June 12 to answer the charge of simple assault. The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case.
Howley had been a Vermont State Police Trooper for about seven years, since January 2005. At the time of the alleged assault at Lake Raponda, Howley was stationed at the Brattleboro state police barracks. He was stationed in Shaftsbury from 2005 to 2007.
According to a Burlington Free Press report, Howley was involved in an earlier allegation of assault. In 2005, a New York man claimed Howley and other officers used excessive force in response to an incident at a wedding reception at West Mount Inn in Arlington. In his lawsuit, the alleged victim said he had been punched, beaten with flashlights, pepper sprayed, and stunned with a Taser nine times while handcuffed.
The matter was settled out of court and, although the settlement included no admission of guilt by the officers implicated in the lawsuit, the alleged victim received $135,000.