WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — Two Vermont police officers are facing simple assault charges stemming from separate episodes that were investigated by the state police.
Police announced Wednesday that Trooper Robert Zink, 39, of Arlington, was charged for his use of force during an arrest Feb. 23 at a home in Shaftsbury.
Zink is charged with striking a suspect who was on the ground in handcuffs. Police said the suspect was resisting arrest, “but the strikes do not appear to be in response to (the suspect's) actions.”
The investigation into Zink's use of force began after another trooper raised concerns about it.
Zink is due to appear in court on Monday in Bennington.
“What he did in no way, shape or form constitutes criminal conduct," Zink's attorney David Sleigh said Wednesday.
Sleigh said the suspect was repeatedly violent, non-compliant and he was striking out at the state troopers involved in his arrest after he had crashed his car was suspected of drunken driving.
“If that conduct constitutes a crime there is not a single police officer who has ever been involved in in a struggle with a non complaint suspect who won’t be looking over his shoulder from now on,” he said.
Zink has been a trooper since 2008. He was suspended with pay during the investigation. As of Wednesday his status was unpaid relief from duty, police said.
On Tuesday, state police announced that former St. Albans Police officer Mark Schwartz, 32, of Cambridge, was charged Tuesday after an 11-month investigation.
Records show that Schwartz allegedly struck a vandalism suspect with his stun gun shortly after the officer stepped from his police cruiser on Feb. 28, 2019.
Schwartz was a member of the St. Albans police department from 2017 until he resigned in March 2020.
Schwartz is due in court in St. Albans April 13 to answer a charge of suspicion of simple assault.
Police say more information will be released when Schwartz appears in court.
“Vermonters support police officers who do a difficult job under challenging circumstances," Schwartz's attorney Robert Kaplan said Wednesday. “I expect a Vermont jury to reject these allegations against Mark Schwartz.”
Both cases were investigated by state police detectives assigned to barracks outside the areas where the officers worked.
The charges in both cases were filed on the recommendation of the attorney general's office, which helped with the investigations.