Baker updates press on fatal hit-and-run probe
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Rutland City Police Chief James Baker speaks to the press Friday about the investigation into the hit-and-run fatality in the city earlier this week.
Rutland Police Chief James Baker told the Vermont media today that while criminal charges have not yet been brought against a man who admitted to being behind the wheel in a fatal hit-and-run crash this week, no special treatment was being afforded to the suspect, former longtime city official Christopher Sullivan.
“For anyone to think that we are treating Mr. Sullivan differently than anyone else is ludicrous,” Baker said of the ex-city attorney during a 2 p.m. press conference at the city Police Department.
“We’re doing the best we can to gather evidence based on facts and not on rumors floating around on a Facebook page,” he said.
The chief’s reference to the social media site related to what he called a sense of anger he’s noted in the community since Sullivan was identified Thursday night as the driver of the vehicle that killed 71-year-old Mary Jane Outslay as she crossed Strongs Avenue in downtown Rutland.
Baker said Sullivan was driving 2004 Lexus sedan, which police recovered with extensive damage to its hood and windshield. Sullivan remained free Friday, and the chief said he didn’t anticipate charges being brought until next week by the Vermont attorney general, whose office is handling the case.
Baker said city police were devoting all of their resources to finding the vehicle involved in the crash after Outslay was struck just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
But the chief said police found almost no forensic evidence at the scene and no video images of the vehicle involved. Then the department was contacted Thursday morning by Shrewsbury attorney Barry Griffith, who told police he was representing Sullivan.
Sullivan and his attorney met with police at the department at 1 p.m. Thursday and the former city attorney allowed law enforcement to seize his Lexus, which was found parked behind a garage at his Rutland home.
Baker said Sullivan admitted to being the driver who was “involved in striking something on Strongs Avenue.” Asked by a reporter whether Sullivan believed he hit an object other than a human being, the chief said he couldn’t elaborate.
The chief said Sullivan was also interviewed briefly by detectives who are now working to find and interview people who were with Sullivan during the hours leading up to the fatal crash.
No information about Sullivan’s statements or his activities earlier Wednesday night were released at the press conference and Baker made it clear from the start of the press gathering that he wasn’t going to discuss evidence in the case — including witness statements.
“I can’t elaborate on the evidence,” Baker said. “Mr. Sullivan has rights that are afforded to him, the same rights we all have.”
Sullivan served as assistant city attorney from 1988 to 1995, then as city attorney until 2007.