Five months after vandalism at a historic rail car prompted calls for action to preserve it, a man was in court in connection with another alleged incident there.
Samuel Dunn, 18, of North Clarendon, pleaded not guilty Monday in Rutland criminal court to a single felony charge of impeding a public officer. The charge carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Dunn was freed on the condition he stay off the premises of the Vermont Farmers Food Center, where the rail car is located.
Rutland City Police said they responded on Oct. 30 to a report of two people trespassing inside the rail car, and arrived to find two people coming out. One was Dunn, who officers recognized from previous encounters, and the other was an unnamed female juvenile, according to affidavits.
Police said that after initially ignoring instructions to walk toward the officer, Dunn eventually complied, saying the officer was lucky that he had not run and that the girl was present. The officer said he decided to cuff Dunn due to his combative attitude. When Dunn resisted, according to affidavits, the officer threatened to release his police dog, to which Dunn replied he would put the dog in a choke hold.
“In order to control the situation I had to place the Defendant on the ground and take him into custody,” Officer Nathan Harvey wrote. “Having to do this prohibited me from conducting an investigation.”
Harvey said there was damage to the rail car, but that he could not determine if it was new damage or from the previous time the rail car was vandalized. Dunn was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center for injuries, according to police, while the girl was released to her father without criminal charges.
In June, police found two teenage boys in the car. They had spent the night, according to police, and damage to the car indicated they were not the first.
The car is owned by the city. It was refurbished and donated to the city by Vermont Railway. VFFC volunteered to host it after a planned site at the train station fell through. Part of the plan was to build an enclosure to protect it from the elements — the Board of Aldermen voted in 2015 to contribute $33,000 — but this never materialized. VFFC President Greg Cox said he had trouble organizing the sort of volunteers needed for the project.
Following the incident in June, Mayor David Allaire said he was in talks with Vermont Railway about ways to speed the process along.
“It’s more or less out of the city’s hands, although we are concerned any time there is a break-in there,” Allaire said on Monday.
Allaire said he had reached out to Vermont Railway about three weeks before the alleged incident involving Dunn.
“I guess it’s a work in progress,” he said. “It’s hard to find someone to do that scale of job. It’s not like building a house or an addition on your house.”