Judge orders a competency exam
WHITE RIVER JUNCTION - A transient from Maine who’d reportedly been giving police in Rutland headaches a week ago allegedly smashed out all the windows of the old Chat & Chew diner north of the village of Chester on Monday and then threw rocks at the Ludlow and Weathersfield police chiefs as well as a Chester officer while leading them and a pair of Vermont State Police troopers on a “slow speed foot chase” through some dense woods before he was eventually taken into custody.
During an appearance Monday afternoon in the courthouse in downtown White River Junction, Darren Goodwin, 62, pleaded innocent to three misdemeanor counts of simple assaults on police officers, two counts of disorderly conduct and one of unlawful mischief before he was ordered to post $500 bail and to contact a licensed mental health counselor for an out-patient competency evaluation.
Despite pleas from police to have Goodwin detained for psychiatric treatment because, in the words of Chester Police Detective Andrew Brothers, Goodwin appeared to be “suffering some kind of mental health crisis,” a screener from Health Care and Rehabilitative Services told Judge Robert Gerety that Goodwin would not cooperate with her attempts to diagnosis him in the holding cell at the courthouse.
Although Goodwin began the arraignment by frequently and loudly interrupting the judge and then, when told to stop doing so, declared “This is just another fruit farm!” before turning his chair around and facing away from the judge for the rest of the hearing, the judge said he could not find that Goodwin met the threshold for an involuntary in-patient evaluation.
Detective Brothers was the first to respond to the Chat & Chew diner on Route 103 north of Chester Depot around 10 a.m. Monday for a report of a man seen throwing rocks at the building.
As he arrived in the area, Brothers said he spotted Goodwin walking along the road carrying a blanket and other items rolled up under his arm.
“Immediately as I pulled to the road shoulder Goodwin turned and started to cross to the other side of the highway in what appeared to be an attempt to avoid contact with me,” Brothers wrote in an affidavit filed with the court.
Brothers said Goodwin refused to come over and speak with him, instead yelling profanities and walking further away.
“I told Goodwin I just wanted to know what was going on and…he started screaming at me and replied ‘You know what the (expletive) is going on!’ and kept telling me to get away from him,” Brothers wrote.
“Goodwin continued to act bizarre and extremely agitated and hostile and never allowed me to get close enough to him to actually have a conversation. He walked down into a ditch…and picked up two larger-sized rocks,” Brothers recalled, noting that he kept back as Goodwin headed up a driveway into the woods.
Ludlow Police Chief Jeffrey Billings, Weathersfield Chief Bill Daniels and a pair of state troopers arrived a few minutes later to back Brothers up while an ambulance crew was put on standby.
The group entered the woods and eventually caught up with Goodwin who they said refused to cooperate with them and yelled repeatedly “It’s police provocation! That’s the problem!”
“On three separate occasions Goodwin threw a rock at myself, Chief Daniels and Chief Billings,” Detective Brothers wrote, noting “All of us had to take some kind of evasive action in order to avoid being hit by the rocks which were approximately 6-to-8 inches in diameter. Goodwin also armed himself with a large stick that was approximately 6-feet in length and held it in an aggressive fashion as if it as a weapon.”
“At one point Goodwin turned towards me and shouted “Do it! Just (expletive) do it!” while pointing at his chest, indicating he wanted me to shoot him,” Brothers added.
After spending 45 minutes following Goodwin through “very unstable footing” in dense undergrowth as they tried to coax him out of the woods, the group managed to grab Goodwin when he exited out onto another driveway and tripped and fell.
Goodwin was taken by ambulance to Springfield Hospital but Brothers said he “refused any and all medical interventions and also refused to answer basic medical questions.”
A mental health worker who spoke to Goodwin was able to ascertain that he was trying to travel from Maine to Pennsylvania but he’d run out of money and been forced to stop his trip in Rutland, Brothers wrote.
The detective said he subsequently learned that Goodwin had caused a disturbance earlier that same morning at the Ludlow Community Center and consequently police had given him a ride out of town.
Brothers wrote that police in Rutland had also dealt with Goodwin 14 separate times in the preceding days, “all involving circumstances where he was hostile and acting out towards individuals. One of these incidents in Rutland City resulted in him being lodged at the Marble Valley Correctional Center for disorderly conduct.”
A check of the Chat & Chew diner after Goodwin was arrested found that all of the front windows had been smashed out and the cover of an electrical box had been torn off the base of a nearby utility pole with numerous wires belonging to the Vermont Telephone Company having been pulled out, according to Brothers who estimated the damages at “a few thousand dollars.”
Goodwin has a criminal record spanning three decades in Maine that includes a conviction for drug trafficking.
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