Woman accused of ramming cruiser held without bail

Bennington officer says he feared for his life

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BENNINGTON — A Bennington woman accused of ramming a police cruiser as she attempted to evade law enforcement last month is being held without bail at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility pending a weight-of-evidence hearing scheduled for Sept. 25, according to court records.

Kerrie Kelly, 27, faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and single counts of unlawful trespassing, negligent operation of a vehicle, resisting arrest and leaving the scene of a crash in connection with an Aug. 29 incident that began on the Park Street side of Bennington Elementary School and ended, after a brief car chase, at a Main Street home just east of Cross Street.

Kelly pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment on Sept. 3, according to court records. A police affidavit filed in court describes the tumultuous moments immediately before and after her arrest on Aug. 29.

Keith Diotte, a Bennington Police Department patrol officer, wrote in the affidavit that he was called to the area near the school just after 3:30 p.m. "for a report of a domestic assault with a female striking a male." When the officer arrived at the scene, he saw Kelly run away from a man with whom she had been arguing.

Kelly, ignoring an order to stop running, entered a 2006 Honda Pilot, put a key in the ignition and closed the door, according to the affidavit. Diotte opened the door and ordered Kelly to exit the vehicle, but she instead put it in drive.

Diotte wrote that he tried to "grab the shifter to keep it in park," but "Kelly accelerated the vehicle while my body was partially still within the vehicle." The officer managed to get "out of the way without getting injured," the affidavit says.

Kelly drove the Honda Pilot "directly" into an occupied Bennington Police cruiser "that had its lights activated," according to the affidavit. Diotte unholstered his firearm and ordered her to stop, but she "was applying the gas and the wheels were squealing attempting to push [the cruiser] out of the way."

The two officers inside the cruiser exited it before Kelly reversed the Pilot and "rammed" it again, causing one officer "to have to jump out of the way over a guard rail," the filing continues.

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"Kelly was screaming 'f---ing kill me' over and over again," Diotte wrote. After hitting the cruiser a third time, she "squared the vehicle up" to the three officers, "paused for a moment and yelled 'f---ing kill me, I want to die.'"

Diotte feared for his life, he wrote. Kelly allegedly drove toward the officers, who opted not to shoot at her because of their proximity to children. "I had to run and jump behind a cruiser to avoid getting struck by the vehicle," Diotte wrote.

Officers chased Kelly, who drove east on Main Street at around 70 miles per hour, the affidavit says. She pulled into the driveway of 1014 Main St. and ran into the house. Police went inside the home after a resident consented to their entry and eventually placed her in handcuffs.

Kelly does not live at the Main Street home and has no ties to its residents, according to the affidavit.

Diotte wrote that the "extensive" damage to the police cruiser "is approximately $10,000."

While being transported in the back of a cruiser to the police station, Kelly began "kicking the back window" which prompted police to pepper spray her, Diotte wrote. Kelly was later taken to a hospital for evaluation because of her repeated suicidal remarks.

Court records indicate Kelly was initially scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 30 but "could not be transported" to court on that date from Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility. "Deft. was non compliant and needed to be pepper sprayed," according to a note on the case's docket sheet.

Kelly's attorney declined to comment on the case.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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