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Judge finds no probable cause for assault charges against two Vermont state troopers

State Police vehicles on road in front of brick building
John Dillon
Vermont Public File
A judge determined that there isn't probable cause to charge two Vermont State Police troopers with simple assault in a 2022 use-of-force incident. The attorney general's office brought the case against the troopers this week. The two troopers still faces charges of reckless endangerment, and they're expected to be arraigned in Brattleboro next week.

A judge has dealt a significant blow to the Attorney General’s Office’s attempted prosecution of two Vermont State Police troopers for a use of force incident in Newfane.

Windham County Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes on Wednesday ruled that there isn’t evidence to charge the troopers with simple assault in an incident where a man fell off a roof after a trooper fired a projectile at him, according to court records.

Sgt. Ryan Wood and Trooper Zachary Trocki were cited by state police on Monday on charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment. Attorney General Charity Clark’s office is bringing the case. The troopers still both face the reckless endangerment charges and are expected to be arraigned in Brattleboro next week.

Wood’s attorney, David Sleigh, said on Wednesday he was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“I think the judge should have gone a step further and found no probable cause on count to the reckless endangerment charge as well,” Sleigh said in an interview. “There's absolutely no basis for a criminal allegation in this case. And, frankly, I think it just exhibits the war that the Attorney General's Office has declared on the Vermont State Police.”

Attorney General Charity Clark declined to comment.

More from Vermont Public: Two Vermont State troopers criminally charged in use of force incident from 2022

The criminal charges against Wood and Trocki stem from an incident that took place nearly a year ago. An affidavit obtained by Vermont Public provides more details about the incident.

On June 17, 2022, Trocki and Wood were both off duty when they responded to a 911 call at 2:17 a.m. from Russell Buzby, who told dispatchers that Marshall Dean, 61, was “destroying his house and smashing windows,” according to the affidavit . Dispatch also received 911 calls from people saying they could hear “someone screaming for help.”

When the troopers arrived at the house in Newfane, Buzby told them that Dean was high on cocaine and heroin and was on the roof of the back porch, according to the affidavit. Buzby also told the troopers that Dean was bleeding because he went through the back window.

Wood then asked Trocki if he had a bean bag — less lethal shotgun rounds that Vermont State Police use. Trocki retrieved the bean bag rounds and shotgun from his cruiser, the affidavit says.

At about 2:39 a.m., Wood started to talk to Dean, who appeared to be holding a large saw. Wood told Dean to drop the saw multiple times, while Dean yelled “help” and “please come help me,” according to the affidavit.

More from Vermont Public: No decision yet on whether to charge two Vermont police officers in 2022 use-of-force incidents

About a minute after Wood started talking to Dean, the trooper told Trocki to fire his bean bag. Trocki tried, but the shotgun didn’t fire. Trocki tried loading the gun again and fired one bean-bag round, which appeared to hit Dean, the affidavit says. Trocki was nearly 78 feet away from Dean while he fired the round, according to the police report.

After Trocki fired the bean bag, Dean was heard saying “help,” according to the affidavit. He dropped to his knees, “crawls” to the edge of the roof, and fell, according to the affidavit. According to state police, Dean fell 15 feet to the ground.

“I took the shot and it appeared to have worked … as a de-escalation and a compliance technique,” Trocki told investigators, according to the affidavit. “He seemed like he was stunned, and, um, then it just – I, I don't know how he got to the edge of the roof, but it seemed like, it almost seemed like he just started like running around and jumping around, then went to the edge and slipped off the back.”

According to the affidavit, the troopers didn’t realize how high off the ground Dean was standing. It looked like a “maximum of 3 maybe 4 feet off the ground,” Trocki told investigators.

Dean was hospitalized at Dartmouth-Hitchcock with a head injury. Dean told investigators that he is “messed up” from the incident and doesn’t remember it, the affidavit says.

Questions, comments or tips? Send me an email at


Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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