Two Vermont State troopers criminally charged in use of force incident from 2022
Two Vermont State Police troopers will face criminal charges for a 2022 incident where a man fell off a roof after police fired bean-bag rounds at him, authorities announced Monday.
Vermont State Police Sgt. Ryan Wood and Trooper Zachary Trocki will be arraigned on May 30 in Brattleboro on charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. Both troopers have been suspended and will be off payroll following the arraignment, state police said.
The Attorney General’s Office, which is bringing the charges, declined to comment. More details are expected to be released after the arraignment when the affadavit of probable cause is made public. In a statement, state police said that the Attorney General’s Office determined “the use of force was not justified given the circumstances of the incident.”
More from Vermont Public: No decision yet on whether to charge two Vermont police officers in 2022 use-of-force incidents
The charges stem from an incident last June when Wood and Trocki responded to a home in Newfane where Marshall Dean, 61, was acting “irrationally and causing damage,” state police said in a press release last year.
When the troopers arrived, they found Dean on the roof holding a saw, according to the state troopers’ union. Trocki and Wood tried to de-escalate the situation, but when they weren’t successful Trocki shot Dean with a bean-bag round, and Dean fell off the 15-foot roof, police say.
Dean sustained serious injuries from the fall and was hospitalized. He’s since recovered, according to a spokesperson for the state police.
The troopers’ union, in a statement released last week before the citations were issued, said the decision to bring charges against Trocki and Wood sets a “dangerous precedent.”
“The decision to use force is complicated and made quickly under difficult and often dangerous circumstances with little or no room for error,” said a written statement from the Vermont Troopers’ Association. “Our members were acting in good faith attempting to resolve challenging situations. Even if determined that the use of force was not justified, a good-faith error should not subject Law Enforcement to criminal prosecution.”
Wood was hired as a state trooper in 2012, and Trocki graduated from the police academy in spring 2022, according to state police.
Trocki and Wood are the first police officers charged by Attorney General Charity Clark since she took office in January. The office is still reviewing one more police shooting from 2022.
In August, a Burlington police officer shot a 20-year-old man in the leg after he allegedly lunged at an officer with a knife, court records say. The man appeared to be in the midst of a mental health crisis and later told investigators he was trying to get police to kill him. A bullet fire by police during that incident also narrowly missed a bystander, according to Seven Days.
More from Vermont Public: Former St. Albans cop will go to prison for punching a handcuffed woman
Police officers in Vermont are rarely charged for using force on the job.
The AG’s office, under the direction of former Attorney General TJ Donovan, reviewed more than two dozen use-of-force cases and brought charges in four incidents. Of those cases, one so far has resulted in a conviction: former St. Albans cop Jason Lawton was sentenced to three months in prison in December after pleading guilty to punching a handcuffed woman.
Another former St. Albans cop accused of using excessive force, Mark Schwartz, was acquitted by a jury in January, according to Seven Days.
The other two cases are still pending. Former St. Albans Police Cpl. Joel Daugreilh faces a simple assault charge for allegedly pepper-spraying a teenager who was handcuffed in a holding cell in 2017. And state trooper Robert Zink faces a simple assault charge for allegedly striking a handcuffed man. Zink’s trial, which is set to last two days, begins on Tuesday in Bennington County.
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