The Attorney General’s Office announced that Sergeant Ryan Wood, 36, and Trooper Zachary Trocki, 29, were arraigned today for Reckless Endangerment in Vermont Superior Court, Windham Criminal Division. The charges are the result of Attorney General Charity Clark’s independent review of the officer-involved shooting incident that occurred on June 17, 2022, at approximately 2:38 a.m. in Newfane, Vermont. During the incident, less than two minutes after responding to the scene, Trooper Trocki shot Marshall Todd Dean with a Super-Sock bean bag projectile fired from a Remington 12 gauge shotgun from a distance of approximately 77.8 feet, causing Mr. Dean to fall from the roof that he was standing on and sustain life-threatening injuries. Trooper Trocki was directed to fire the less-than-lethal round by Sergeant Wood, who was the officer in charge at the scene.
After careful review of the facts and circumstances in this matter, Orleans County State’s Attorney Farzana Leyva, acting as conflict counsel for the Windham County State’s Attorney, also recommended criminal charges for both officers. In reaching their decisions, the Attorney General’s Office and State’s Attorney’s Office reviewed all materials provided by Vermont State Police, who conducted the investigation.
Under Vermont law, every person has a right to be free from excessive use of force by officers acting under authority of the State, and a law enforcement officer’s authority to use physical force is a serious responsibility that shall be exercised judiciously and with respect for human rights and dignity and for the sanctity of every human life. 20 V.S.A. § 2368 (b)(3). Additionally, under Vermont law, the decision by a law enforcement officer to use force shall be evaluated carefully and thoroughly, in a manner that reflects the gravity of that authority and the serious consequences of the use of force by law enforcement officers, in order to ensure that officers use force consistent with law and with agency policies. 20 V.S.A § 2368 (b)(4).
Based on the facts and circumstances and consistent with Vermont law, the Attorney General’s Office concluded that Sergeant Wood and Trooper Trocki were not justified in their use of force. There is no evidence, based on body camera videos, that Mr. Dean posed an imminent threat to the lives of the troopers or any other person. Mr. Dean, who was standing on a roof approximately 77.8 feet away from the officers, appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis while also under the influence of substances, and was repeatedly heard calling for help from the roof. While Mr. Dean was holding a handsaw, there was no evidence that he threatened to use the handsaw against another person. Further, while neighbors could hear Mr. Dean yelling for help, there were no other people in Mr. Dean’s immediate vicinity.
At their arraignments, Trooper Trocki and Sergeant Wood each pleaded not guilty to the charge of Reckless Endangerment and were released by the Court on their own recognizance. Reckless Endangerment is a misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of up to 1 year in prison and/or $1,000.00 fine.
The Attorney General emphasizes that individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Contact: Lauren Jandl, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171