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Update No. 4: Chief Medical Examiner’s Office rules Rutland police officer’s death a homicide

 

STATE OF VERMONT

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY

VERMONT STATE POLICE

 

Chief Medical Examiner's Office rules Rutland police officer's death a homicide

 

RUTLAND, Vermont (Wednesday, July 19, 2023) — The Vermont Chief Medical Examiner's Office has concluded that the manner of death for Rutland City Police Officer Jessica Ebbighausen is a homicide.

 

Manner of death is a medical determination rather than a legal one. In this context, homicide means the death of an individual was caused by the intentional act of another person.

 

The investigation into this incident remains active and ongoing. The Vermont State Police is continuing to work with the office of Rutland County State's Attorney Ian Sullivan, and additional charges are possible.

 

 

***Update No. 3, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 8, 2023***

Initial charges have been filed against the man who led Rutland police on a brief high-speed pursuit Friday that ended when he crashed into two cruisers, killing 19-year-old part-time Officer Jessica Ebbighausen and injuring two other officers.

 

Tate Rheaume, 20, is facing charges of grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle with death resulting, and attempting to elude with death resulting.

 

In consultation with the office of Rutland County State's Attorney Ian Sullivan, the Vermont State Police on Saturday continues to actively investigate this incident, and additional charges are possible.

 

Rheaume was remanded into the custody of the Vermont Department of Corrections on $500,000 bail while remaining at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington for treatment of injuries from the crash. His condition was listed as serious but stable Saturday afternoon. Rheaume is scheduled for arraignment at 12:30 p.m. Monday in the Criminal Division of Vermont Superior Court in Rutland.

 

Meanwhile, nearly three dozen Vermont law-enforcement officers and first responders escorted Officer Ebbighausen's body in a procession along U.S. Route 7 from the Vermont Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington back to the city she served as a part-time officer since May 23, and where she planned to embark on a career as a full-time police officer starting next month with training at the Police Academy. A photo of the procession departing from Burlington is attached to this release; additional photos and video are available online at this link.

 

Earlier Saturday, the Medical Examiner's Office completed the autopsy on Ebbighausen. The cause of death is blunt force trauma, and the manner of death is listed as pending.

 

The full-time officer who accompanied Officer Ebbighausen in her cruiser is identified as Richard Caravaggio. He was released Saturday from Rutland Regional Medical Center. The driver of the Rutland Police Department's second eastbound cruiser is identified as Officer Kelsey Parker, who was treated at the hospital and released on Friday. The driver of the westbound cruiser, who was pursuing Rheaume, is identified as Officer Jared Dumas. He was uninvolved in the crash and was not physically injured.

 

Investigation by VSP has determined that neither Officer Ebbighausen nor Officer Caravaggio were wearing seat belts at the time of the collision.

 

Troopers with the Vermont State Police and wardens with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife provided primary law-enforcement services to the city of Rutland overnight. The Rutland City Police Department has since resumed patrols.

 

Throughout the response to this event, the Vermont State Police Victim Services Unit has provided support and assistance to Officer Ebbighausen's family. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be shared in accordance with the family's wishes.

 

The Vermont State Police will continue to provide updates as the investigation continues.

 

 

***Update No. 2, 10:45 p.m. Friday, July 7, 2023***

The investigation into this afternoon's fatal crash that killed a Rutland City Police Department officer remains active and ongoing tonight. Numerous law-enforcement resources have been brought to bear on this complex case.

 

The officer who died is identified as Jessica Ebbighausen, 19, of Ira. She started working with the Rutland Police Department on May 23 as a part-time, Level 2-certified officer. She was slated to begin training at the Vermont Police Academy next month to become a full-time officer.

 

The chain of events that led to Officer Ebbighausen's death began at 2:35 p.m. with a call to police that a man named Tate Rheaume, 20, was attempting a break-in at a residence on East Washington Street. Rutland police units began responding to the scene, where the first officer encountered Mr. Rheaume's vehicle. At 2:51 p.m., the vehicle fled the scene, and the officer pursued it.

 

The pursuit continued from East Washington Street to Stratton Road to the intersection with Woodstock Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 4. Mr. Rheaume turned west on Woodstock Avenue. At the same time, additional Rutland police units were responding to the area to assist. One of these cruisers was driven by Officer Ebbighausen, with a supervising full-time officer in the passenger seat. This cruiser, accompanied by a second Rutland police cruiser, was traveling east on Woodstock Avenue.

 

Evidence gathered at the scene indicates that Mr. Rheaume crossed the center line into the eastbound lanes and collided with Officer Ebbighausen's cruiser, causing catastrophic damage to both vehicles. Mr. Rheaume's truck then struck the second eastbound Rutland police cruiser. The pursuing cruiser was not involved in the collision.

 

The collision occurred at 2:53 p.m. The pursuit covered a distance of slightly less than two miles.

 

Officer Ebbighausen was pronounced dead at the scene. Her body, under an escort provided by the Rutland Police Department and the Vermont State Police, was brought this evening to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Burlington for an autopsy.

 

The two other Rutland officers and Mr. Rheaume were injured. All three initially were transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center for treatment of various injuries. The officer who was accompanying Officer Ebbighausen remains hospitalized. The officer who was driving the second eastbound cruiser was treated and released. Mr. Rheaume was transferred to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

 

The Vermont State Police is investigating the role that both impairment and speed played in the crash. Investigators are working with Rutland County State's Attorney Ian Sullivan on potential charges.

 

State police provided numerous resources to this investigation, including the Crash Reconstruction Team, the Crime Scene Search Team, troopers from the Field Force Division, and detectives with the Criminal Division.

 

At the request of Rutland Police Chief Brian Kilcullen, the Vermont State Police and the Department of Fish & Wildlife will be providing primary law-enforcement coverage for the city for at least the next 12 hours.

 

The Rutland Town Police Department, the Rutland County Sheriff's Department, the Rutland Fire Department, and an investigator with the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery provided assistance.

 

The Vermont State Police will identify the other officers involved in this incident and provide additional information as the investigation continues.

 

 

***Update No. 1, 9:10 p.m. Friday, July 7, 2023***

The Vermont State Police will hold a news conference to share additional information about this afternoon's fatal crash in which a Rutland City Police Department officer was killed.

 

The news conference will begin at approximately 10 p.m. at the Rutland City Police Department, 108 Wales St.

 

Officials from the city of Rutland, the police department, and Rutland County State's Attorney Ian Sullivan also will be in attendance.

 

 

***Initial news release, 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 7, 2023***

The Vermont State Police is investigating a multi-vehicle crash that occurred in Rutland on Friday afternoon, July 7, 2023, in which an on-duty officer with the Rutland City Police Department was killed.

 

The crash occurred at about 3 p.m. on Woodstock Avenue, also known as U.S. Route 4, near Deer Street.

 

The Vermont State Police Field Force Division and Crash Reconstruction Team are leading the investigation, which is in its earliest stages. The name of the deceased Rutland City officer will be released as the investigation continues.

 

Woodstock Avenue is closed from Deer Street to Temple Street. Members of the public should expect delays in the area or take alternate routes.

 

No further information is available at this time. State police will provide updates as the investigation continues.

 

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