A Vermont man appeared in a Burlington courtroom Tuesday to face charges related to a shooting in late February that badly injured an innocent woman and divided the county’s head prosecutor and the city’s mayor and police chief.
The attorney for Rashad Nashid, 37, entered not guilty pleas on five charges, including allegations of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Earlier this year, police labeled Nashid as the suspect seen in surveillance video shooting toward a crowd outside a busy bar on Main Street after 2 a.m.
Police said one bullet traveled through the body of an innocent bystander, who survived. Another bullet flew into a nearby apartment.
“Whenever you have a mixture of tempers, alcohol, and firearms on a crowded city street, it is a recipe for someone getting hurt or killed,” observed Justin Jiron, Chittenden County’s chief deputy state’s attorney. “Yeah—a very dangerous situation.”
Investigators said those shots were the explosive end of a feud between Nashid and another man, Carl Martin, over how Martin’s brother treated a woman.
In the video, prosecutors and police said Martin can be seen punching Nashid then raising what appears to be his own gun, before Nashid runs away and fires.
Nashid was ordered held on $10,000 bail on the new state charges, but was previously being held in federal custody in northern New York on a different firearm charge.
Recently, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George announced her office would not criminally charge Martin—a decision that drew rare public criticism from city leaders.
“We believe that Carl Martin probably would have offered a self-defense claim, but when his actions contributed to the shooting of an innocent person, we think that claim should be tested in a court of law,” Chief Brandon del Pozo of the Burlington Police Department said in an interview with necn affiliate NBC 5 News last month. “We think Vermonters deserve that.”
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger agreed with del Pozo in a tweet last month, which read, “A night of gun violence in downtown [Burlington] like this should be judged by Vermonters in a court of law. A free pass sends the wrong message.”
However, Jiron and George stand by the decision to charge only Nashid.
Jiron explained Tuesday he’ll need Martin to testify against the alleged shooter, and told necn the office’s legal analysis determined Martin’s punch and flashing the gun would be considered self-defense.
In a letter to police explaining her decision to not pursue criminal charges against Martin, State’s Attorney George said there was no doubt in her mind that Martin was acting irresponsibly and dangerously the night in question. Still, George said in the letter that Martin’s actions amounted to self-defense and defense of his brother.
“In that theory, it would be inappropriate to charge [Martin],” Jiron added Tuesday.
After entering the not guilty pleas to the new state charges, Nashid’s attorney, Bob Katims, said he plans to file a request to dismiss the charges, hinting he, too, plans to argue self-defense.
As for the injured bystander, Jiron said it is his understanding that she is recovering well.