Judge throws out assault case against trooper

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 4:53 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
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BENNINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont judge Tuesday dropped charges against a Vermont trooper accused of assaulting a handcuffed suspect, and police and prosecutors are pointing fingers at each other for the abrupt ending to the case.

The ruling came as Robert Zink’s jury trial was set to get underway in Bennington Tuesday. Zink’s lawyer filed a motion to dismiss stating that the Attorney General’s Office was late in submitting evidence in time for a fair trial.

Zink was charged in April 2021 after an investigation found he has struck a handcuffed suspect multiple times in the head during a struggle. Zink has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the simple assault charge.

Judge Kerry McDonald-Cady dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the AG’s office cannot refile the charges at a later date.

Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark in a statement said she was disappointed with the outcome and laid the blame on the state police. “My office will be working with Vermont State Police to determine how and why they failed to timely produce discovery documents in this case and how this situation can be prevented in the future,” she said.

In response, the state police issued a statement saying: “It is unfortunate that the Attorney General has decided to cast blame on the Vermont State Police for discovery violations in this case.”

Meanwhile, Trooper Zink has been on unpaid relief from duty from VSP since these charges were filed more than two years ago. He would need to go through an internal review process if he wants to get his job back.

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