Vt. man accused of crushing cop cars with tractor gets $50K bail
(CBS/AP) NEWPORT, Vt. - Roger Pion, the Vermont man accused of using a heavy farm tractor to drive over seven police vehicles and attempting to run over the two officers who pursued him, was ordered held on $50,000 bail Friday.
Pion, 34, was said to be angry over a previous arrest for both marijuana possession and resisting arrest, Orleans County sheriffs say. He drove into the sheriff's department parking lot, allegedly driving over cruisers and a transport van.
No one was injured in Thursday's incident.
Without an intact vehicle, the sheriffs were unable to pursue Pion. When he saw that two Newport City officers were chasing him, he allegedly began backing the tractor towards them.
Tanner Jacobs, a Newport officer, backed up his car ten or fifteen feet in fear of his and his partner's safety, with the tractor "still backing up," according to police statements given to the court. They left their vehicles to avoid getting hurt.
City and state police soon surrounded Pion, ordering him at gunpoint to exit the tractor. Authorities found Pion to be carrying a loaded pistol.
He faces 14 charges, with the most serious - felony aggravated assault on a police officer - carrying a sentence of up to 16 years.
Pion's defense attorney, David Sleigh, is seeking to have the aggravated assault charge dismissed.
"There was no actual contact. He never came into threatening proximity of anyone," Sleigh said.
The alleged actions of his client may have led to some "personal measure of retribution" reflected in the charge, but it "does not equate to proof," he said.
After Pion's court appearance on Friday, the sheriff's department went to work, trying to salvage what they could from the police vehicles.
Chief Deputy Philip Brooks was surprised that the items stored in the trunk of his cruiser, which included a rifle and shotgun, were unharmed. "Even my hat held its shape," he said.
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