Dave St. Pierre, Photo
This case epitomizes the larger discourse in the state about mental health issues.
ST. ALBANS — A St. Albans City man led police on a chase Sunday evening after the man stole a police cruiser, said police.
According to the Vermont State Police press release, St. Albans officers approached 34-year-old Roger Patenaude after observing him walking near North Elm Street around 7 p.m. on Sunday. Patenaude had an active warrant out for his arrest issued Friday, a warrant for violation of probation that resulted from complaints about Patenaude’s behavior.
St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor said Monday morning that he had received calls about Patenaude’s actions becoming more aggressive.
When police tried to arrest Patenaude, he fled on foot. The press release said that Patenaude eventually came upon an unlocked police cruiser and got inside. Sgt. Frank McCarty stood in front of the cruiser and ordered Patenaude to stop, but Patenaude did not follow the order and drove forward, knocking McCarty down.
Patenaude then backed the cruiser away from McCarty and led police on a 1.8-mile chase through St. Albans City. According to the press release, the chase concluded when Patenaude intentionally crashed the vehicle into a utility pole on Route 104 near Northwestern Counseling & Support Services.
After the crash, police took Patenaude into custody. He was transported to Northwestern Medical Center for minor injuries sustained in the crash, and was later released. Police then brought Patenaude to the Northwest State Correctional Facility, where he was held on the arrest warrant as well as on $10,000 bail for new charges: aggravated assault on law enforcement officer, attempting to elude, negligent operation, and operating without owner’s consent.
McCarty was also treated at NMC and was released with minor injuries, and the press release said that the police cruiser sustained heavy damage and airbag deployment from the crash.
Route 104, also known as the Fisher Pond Road, was closed for a time in the vicinity of its intersection with Route 36.
Chief Taylor today said that disorderly conduct resulting from Patenaude’s mental health condition has been an underlying issue in this case.
“I think this case epitomizes the larger discourse in the state about mental health issues,” Taylor said. Taylor added that mental health needs to be addressed not only for those suffering a mental health condition, but also for the safety of others.
“Someone could have been hurt much, much worse,” he said.