A former St. Albans police corporal has been charged with committing a crime while he was still on the force, and on duty.

The charge: He used a stun gun on a man within seconds of stepping out of his cruiser.

Mark Schwartz, 32, of Cambridge, was arraignment April 13 in Franklin County Superior criminal court in St. Albans on a misdemeanor charge of simple assault, Vermont State Police said in a press release.

The charge against Schwartz follows an 11-month state police investigation of an on-duty incident in February 2019. Police began investigating in May 2020 at the request of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, according to the release.

From their investigation, here’s what state police allege happened:

Schwartz, while on-duty, responded to a report that a man had broken a glass door at a bar around 9:30 p.m. Feb. 28, 2019. Records show Schwartz encountered Vincent Ford, who matched the description of the vandalism suspect, and used a Taser on him shortly after stepping out of his police cruiser.

Last year, Seven Days published bodycam footage showing Schwartz using a Taser within seconds of the encounter. The newspaper also reported that the police department at that time had defended Schwartz’s conduct as legal.

Ford claimed Schwartz’s action was excessive force and an inappropriate use of a Taser, according to the report.

Schwartz’s attorney Robert Kaplan said, “I was very surprised the AG decided to bring a charge of this case. It appears to be politically motivated. There are just not the facts to obtain the conviction.”

He said his client intended to plead not guilty and wants a jury trial.

Schwartz served with the St. Albans City Police Department from August 2017 until he resigned in March 2020.

Several St. Albans police officers have been linked to a number of cases involving inappropriate conduct. In one case, an officer was accused of striking a woman in the face. Another officer allegedly used pepper spray on a handcuffed man. A third was facing kidnapping and sex assault charges that were later dismissed.

— VTDigger

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