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Vermont Attorney General refers state police use-of-force case to diversion

State Police vehicles on road in front of brick building
John Dillon
Vermont Public
Two Vermont State Police troopers facing charges related to a use-of-force incident could have the case dismissed if they complete the diversion process.

Two Vermont State Police troopers accused of using excessive force during a 2022 incident in Newfane will have their criminal case moved to diversion — a confidential process that can lead to records being sealed.

Sgt. Ryan Wood and Trooper Zachary Trocki each faced a charge of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum prison sentence of one year, and pleaded not guilty. The charges, filed by the Attorney General’s office, stemmed from an incident where a 61-year-old man fell off a 15-foot roof after Trocki fired a bean bag round at him. (State police carry bean bag rounds as a less-lethal use of force option.)

In a press release on Thursday, Attorney General Charity Clark said her office and the troopers’ reached an agreement to move the case to diversion.

“In this case, it is my hope that this referral will allow the victim, the police officers and the community to heal and move forward together,” Clark said in a written statement. “I am pleased with this outcome.”

If the troopers successfully complete diversion, their criminal charges will be dismissed and records of the case can be sealed.

Wood and Trocki’s attorney, David Sleigh, said in a statement on Thursday that the troopers were “optimistic” about the diversion process and see “it as a chance for personal growth and improvement.”

“They understand that with better training, the situation could have been handled differently, leading to a more positive outcome for everyone involved, including themselves and Mr. Dean,” Sleigh said in the statement.

More from Vermont Public: Video shows Vermont State Police use of force incident that led to criminal charges

Wood and Trocki responded to a call in June 2022 that Marshall Dean was acting irrational and causing damage to a house in Newfane. When they arrived, Dean was on the porch roof holding a handsaw and shouting for help, according to video obtained by Vermont Public. The owner of the house told the troopers that Dean was high on heroin and cocaine.

Dean didn’t comply with numerous orders to drop the saw. After about a minute of shouting at Dean, Wood told Trocki to use the bean bag shotgun.

“If you can take a shot, go ahead and take a shot,” Wood told Trocki, according to the video.

Trocki fired a bean bag round at Dean, who appeared to be hit. Shortly after, he fell off the 15-foot roof, the video shows. The troopers were nearly 78 feet away from Dean when Trocki fired, court records say.

Wood and Trocki told investigators they didn’t realize how high off the ground Dean was standing.

Dean was hospitalized at Dartmouth-Hitchcock with a head injury.

The Attorney General’s office initially filed simple assault charges against both troopers, but those charges were dismissed by a judge who said there was insufficient evidence that the bean bag round caused Dean to fall off the roof.

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