MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Two Vermont State Police troopers are going to be charged criminally for using a beanbag shotgun round during an incident last year in Newfane in which the man who was hit fell and suffered a head injury, the union that represents the troopers said Thursday.
In a statement, the Vermont Troopers’ Association says the state police have been directed by Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark to bring charges against Sgt. Ryan Wood and Trooper Zack Trocki of the Westminster Barracks for simple assault and reckless endangerment.
“The decision to use force is complicated and made quickly under difficult and often dangerous circumstances with little or no room for error,” said the statement distributed by Troopers’ Association Executive Director Michael O’Neil. “Our members were acting in good faith.”
The statement, which was also issued in the name of the attorneys for the two troopers, says the attorney general has concluded the actions of Wood and Trocki were not justified.
The state police referred questions about the case to the attorney general’s office. A message was sent to Clark seeking comment.
The union says 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. When the troopers arrived they found a man with a handheld saw at the back side of the house. The man was on an elevated surface.
The troopers decided to use a beanbag shotgun round to gain compliance. After the man was hit he walked to the edge of what turned out to be a roof, where he fell 12 feet and suffered severe head injuries.
The union says it believes the case should have been handled through the state police’s internal affairs process.
“While an internal affairs investigation may result in a finding of a violation of policy and potential discipline, we do not believe this case rises to the level of criminal conduct,” the statement said. “We believe this is setting a dangerous precedent for law enforcement officers throughout Vermont.”