Pownal man charged after alleged assault

BENNINGTON — A Pownal man who police said threatened a woman and officers at his South Stream Road home on Sunday now faces charges.

What began as a domestic disturbance eventually drew the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit and Crisis Negotiation Unit members, who spent several hours talking to the 48-year-old man before he exited a structure next to his home. Authorities say he threatened a woman he knew and law enforcement, and also punched a trooper, before being arrested.

James Mathis pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court on Monday to single misdemeanor counts of domestic assault, simple assault on a law enforcement officer to cause bodily injury, and resisting arrest. Judge David A. Howard released him with conditions. He will return to court on Jan. 12. Court records did not indicate Mathis had a criminal history.

William D. Wright, Mathis' attorney, said during the defendant's arraignment that he has "a major mental illness." Mathis is willing to receive mental health treatment, "understanding it's not a choice anymore, he needs it for himself," Wright said.

Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said the state had requested bail after Mathis' arrest over concerns of where he would reside after the offenses; she did not request cash bail for Mathis at his arraignment. Both she and Wright said Mathis would reside in North Adams, Mass.

Troopers were dispatched to the residence at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday after a caller reported a man and woman were arguing, according to a court affidavit. Police spoke to a woman who said the man was in a cottage near the residence and had a knife. The woman described Mathis' engaging in violent and threatening behavior towards her.

Troopers were granted a search warrant to locate Mathis. The Vermont State Police Crisis Negotiations Unit were also called.

Mathis "eventually came out of the residence after hours of talking with negotiators" but attempted to re-enter the cottage as Tactical Services Unit members moved in to arrest him. According to the affidavit, Mathis punched a trooper with closed fists, striking a trooper once in the face, with a set of keys intertwined in his knuckles as a makeshift weapon. Troopers deployed a K-9, which bit Mathis and resulted in him being arrested.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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