NEWPORT, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont man who authorities said used a large farm tractor like a monster truck and drove over seven police vehicles, then tried to run over two officers who pursued him, was ordered held on $50,000 bail Friday.
Orleans County sheriffs said Roger Pion, 34, of Newport, was angry over a recent arrest for resisting arrest and marijuana possession when he drove the tractor into the parking lot of the sheriff's department and rolled it multiple times across cruisers and a transport van parked in the lot. No one was injured in Thursday's incident.
Sworn police statements filed at the court said Pion would face 14 charges. The most serious one, felony aggravated assault on a police officer, carries a penalty of up to 16 years in prison.
Sheriffs said that after Pion left their lot, they were unable to pursue him because they had no intact vehicles. When two Newport City officers chased him, he suddenly started backing the tractor toward them.
"I backed up in fear of our safety about ten to fifteen feet before bumping into another vehicle," wrote Newport Officer Tanner Jacobs, adding that "at this point the tractor was still backing up." He said he and his partner then left their vehicle to avoid getting run over.
Converging city and state police and county sheriffs then surrounded Pion and ordered him from the tractor at gunpoint. He was found to be carrying a loaded pistol, authorities said. Sheriff's deputies got there in a borrowed civilian vehicle.
Defense attorney David Sleigh said he would seek to have the aggravated assault charge dismissed.
"There was no actual contact. He never came into threatening proximity of anyone," Sleigh said. "I understand if these deputies were annoyed, and there may be a personal measure of retribution" reflected in the aggravated assault charge. "But that does not equate to proof."