NEWPORT (AP) -- A Vermont man charged with crushing seven police vehicles with a tractor had been aggressive toward law enforcement in the past, police said in court papers.
Roger Pion, 34, of Newport, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 15 criminal charges. Judge Robert Bent said he'll consider a request by defense lawyer David Sleigh to dismiss a charge of attempted aggravated assault with a weapon, in which Pion is accused of backing the tractor toward a Newport police cruiser holding two officers.
Officials said Pion was angry over a recent arrest for resisting arrest and marijuana possession when he drove the tractor into the Orleans County sheriff's office parking lot on Thursday and rolled it over six sheriff cruisers and a van. Sleigh declined to comment on whether Pion had become fed up with past police treatment.
Police say Pion became uncooperative and aggressive when officers questioned him on July 3 about an arrest warrant during a traffic stop, the Burlington Free Press reported. Pion had been a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for speeding and lacking a registration.
"It is important to note, in prior incidents involving law enforcement encounters with Pion, this individual has acted uncooperative and aggressive," Newport Police Officer Aaron Lefebvre wrote in his affidavit July 9.
While Pion was resisting verbal and physical commands, his pit bull escaped from the vehicle, police said. Pion got control of the dog and gave it back to the driver.
"After releasing the animal, Pion again assumed an assaultive and resistance stance," Lefebvre wrote.
Police said they used "an arm bar take down" to put Pion on the ground. They said they found a loaded pistol concealed in Pion's pants and a small amount of marijuana, allegations Pion has denied.
Pion refused to sign his court citation, police said.
They called Newport Rescue to treat Pion, the affidavit stated. He later was transported to North County Hospital for evaluation. His injuries were not disclosed.
Pion's popularity appears to be growing, with real and fake Facebook sites asking for donations for his defense, songs penned in his honor and a T-shirt claiming that he be freed.
The Caledonian-Record reported a "Free Roger Pion" T-shirt has a picture of a tractor crossing a sign and the words, "In Vermont, they're serious."