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BENNINGTON — A Landgrove man has been ordered to abstain from alcohol and drugs and to have no contact with a woman he has been charged with assaulting on Christmas night.

Ely B. Key pleaded not guilty Monday at Bennington Superior Court-Criminal Division on eight charges, including allegations of domestic abuse and assaulting police officers. Three of the charges of assaulting an officer are felonies; the remainder, including the domestic assault charge, are misdemeanors.

Affidavits presented Monday during Key’s arraignment indicate a chaotic scene unfolded during his arrest, with state and local police using bean bag rounds and a Taser in a lengthy struggle to subdue him.

Key was ordered held on $10,000 bail at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield following his arrest Christmas night. Key is no longer in custody, officials at Southern State said.

Release conditions set Monday stipulate that Key not purchase alcohol or drugs, not purchase, possess or use firearms, that he must submit to alcohol testing, and that he have no contact the alleged victim in the case. The Journal does not name alleged victims of domestic abuse.

Sarah Vengel was listed in court documents as representing Key in court. Messages left for Vengel seeking comment had not been returned by press time Wednesday afternoon.

Officers from three departments responded to the incident. In affidavits filed with the court by the Bennington State’s Attorney’s office, police said Key, despite having been struck with less-than-lethal projectiles in the leg, tasered, and restrained by officers, remained violent and confrontational throughout the incident and appeared “unable to feel pain.”

Vermont State Police responded to a residence at 88 Jaquith Road at about 9 p.m. after neighbors called 911. Neighbors said they heard yelling and a struggle and were fearful for the safety of an occupant of the house, according to a sworn affidavit filed by Trooper Tyler Silva.

According to the affidavit, a neighbor told dispatchers they heard a woman at the residence screaming at Key, telling him “you’re gonna to beat the s- — out of me.” The neighbor, who was about 300 yards away from the house, also said they heard the woman say “you’re hurting me.”

According to affidavits by Silva and Winhall Police Officer Jacob Lacasse, when they approached the house, Key showed signs of impairment including slurred speech and slow and deliberate movement. Signs of alcohol consumption and an altercation were evident, including broken glass on the kitchen floor, the officers said.

After Silva and Lacasse asked to be let in, Key locked the door, turned out the lights and was heard advising the woman that police had arrived, according to the affidavit. Silva, concerned for the woman’s safety, notified dispatch that they intended to force entry into the house, and called for backup.

Silva stated in the affidavit that he loaded his shotgun with five bean bag rounds — fabric pillows filled with lead shot — and asked Lacasse to cover him as they entered the home.

After the woman had come downstairs, Key “began having violent outbursts towards Officer Lacasse and myself,” Silva said in the affidavit. Both officers stated that Key threw objects, later determined to be dumbbells, down the stairs at where they had been standing.

Unsure if Key was armed, Silva fired less-than-lethal rounds at Key, striking him twice in the left thigh and once in the calf. Lacasse followed up with deployment of his Taser, which he stated in his affidavit that Key later attempted to take.

Police said in affidavits that they found the woman’s phone in Key’s clothing when they searched him for weapons.

Key is charged with domestic assault, aggravated assault with intent to prevent a law enforcement officer from performing a lawful duty, two counts of impeding a public officer, one count of assaulting a law enforcement officer with bodily fluids, two counts of simple assault on a protected professional, and one count of unlawful mischief of $250 or less.

Reach Greg Sukiennik at gsukiennik@manchesterjournal.com or at 802-447-7567, ext. 119.

Greg Sukiennik joined New England Newspapers as a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle in 1995. He worked for The AP in Boston, and at ESPN.com, before rejoining NENI in 2016. He was managing editor of all three NENI Vermont newspapers from 2017-19.


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