Brattleboro, VT – Two Vermont State troopers pleaded not guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment connected to a use-of-force incident last summer.
Tuesday morning, Sergeant Ryan Wood and Trooper Zack Trocki appeared in Vermont Superior Court in Brattleboro to enter their pleas. The troopers are accused of firing a beanbag shotgun at a man in Newfane on June 17, 2022, while he was standing on a roof. Court records allege the man fell from the roof after being shot, suffering significant injuries.
Earlier this month, Vermont’s Attorney General Charity Clark directed authorities to file reckless endangerment and simple assault charges against the two troopers, saying their use of force in the incident was unjustified. Soon after, Windham Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes tossed out the simple assault charge, saying there was not enough evidence to support the charge.
Since then, Clark’s office has provided more details about the shooting. Clark says that based on body camera footage, Wood asked Trocki to fire the beanbag round at the man last year while they were standing roughly 77 feet away from him. Clark also says there’s no evidence that the man posed an immediate threat to police or anyone else.
At Tuesday morning’s arraignment, an attorney for the state of Vermont asked Judge Hayes to take a second look at the possibility of a simple assault charge, but Hayes said she would need to see a new affidavit with additional evidence before reconsidering.
“Let me invite you, rather than submitting a video which I am not comfortable reviewing, to submit an amended affidavit if you believe there are facts not contained in your affidavit that I should consider and that would warrant a reconsideration of probable cause as to the simple assault charge,” Hayes said to the attorney. “I’m happy to do that, but it needs to be in writing.”
Trocki and Wood were released on their own recognizance following the arraignment. If convicted of reckless endangerment, they could each face up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine. In the meantime, they have been suspended from their duties with Vermont State Police.