Judge dismisses assault charge against Vermont troopers who fired beanbags at suspect
A Vermont judge has dismissed one of the counts against two state police troopers who were charged criminally after they fired bean bag rounds from a shotgun against a man who was acting irrationally.
The man who was hit subsequently fell and suffered a head injury. In a two sentence entry order issued Wednesday, Vermont Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes said the affidavit filed by police to support the charges against Sgt. Ryan Wood and Trooper Zachary Trocki did not show that the firing of the bean bag rounds caused the injury.
The Vermont Troopers’ Association says the simple assault charge against was dismissed. The troopers are still due in court May 30 to answer a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.
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The two troopers were sent to a location in the southern Vermont town of Newfane on June 17, where a man was reportedly acting irrationally and causing damage. The union says that when the troopers arrived, they found a man with a handheld saw on an elevated area at the back the house.
Soon after the man was hit with the bean bag, he slipped and fell more than 10 feet, suffering a significant head injury.
In a statement, the Vermont Troopers’ Association said the troopers were performing their duties in good faith.
“Their goal in using a less lethal bean bag round was to bring the situation to a peaceful and safe conclusion,” the statement said. “If any question of their actions exists, it is one of Vermont State Police policy and procedures, not criminal conduct.”
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Defense Attorney David Sleigh, who represents Wood, said there are no factual allegations the beanbag caused the injuries.
“There is simply no basis for a criminal charge here at all and I think this is born out in the facts of the affidavit,” said Sleigh.
The attorney general’s office said rules of professional responsibility prevented them from commenting.
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The two troopers were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident. Now they have been suspended.