Police Gun Down Vt. Drug Suspect

Thursday, December 24, 2015
Burlington — A drug suspect shot and killed by a state police trooper and federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent during a raid at his home pointed a muzzle-loading rifle at them after they burst into his apartment, police said Wednesday.

A law enforcement team smashed open the front door of Kenneth Stephens’ Burlington apartment with a battering ram on Tuesday night and yelled, “Police!” authorities said.

“As the door began to open, the trooper could hear yelling from inside the residence and observed a male subject sitting in a chair, whom he believed to be Stephens,” said a state police news release. “The trooper then observed the subject stand up and point the rifle directly at him.”

The trooper and DEA agent began shooting, firing 13 rounds from their service rifles, authorities said. Police did not say how many times Stephens was hit.

A muzzle-loading rifle with a scope, later determined to be loaded but unfired, was found near Stephens’ body.

Stephens had been suspected of dealing heroin and crack. It wasn’t immediately clear whether authorities found drugs in Stephens’ house during the raid. The state police news release didn’t say, and authorities didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The names of the trooper and agent who fired their weapons were not released.

The DEA had been investigating Stephens, 56, for more than a month, and a confidential informant bought drugs from him on several occasions. In 1996, Stephens was sentenced in federal court to more than 15 years in prison for the illegal possession of a firearm.

The Tuesday-night raid was being led by the DEA under the auspices of a federal search warrant. It included 16 federal, state and local officers.

Before the raid, the informant told investigators that Stephens was believed to be in possession of the rifle.

The investigation into the shooting is being led by the state police. Detectives are working with the office of the Chittenden County state’s attorney, the Vermont attorney general, the U.S. attorney and the DEA.