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Officer To Be Charged With Reckless Gun Use

by Dana Gray

Trying to stop a vehicle fleeing New Hampshire and Vermont police pursuers earlier this month has become an even bigger problem for a West Stewartstown, N.H., police officer.

Officer Wilman Allen Jr. will be charged with reckless endangerment, according to Essex County State's Attorney Jan Paul. It is alleged that Allen fired his gun at the fleeing vehicle.

The vehicle in flight was operated by Dennis Phillips, 40, Burlington, On Sept. 6. He reportedly led police on a chase that lasted for 90 miles before stopping at a New Hampshire and Vermont state police roadblock in Guildhall, complete with "stop-sticks," which is a spike-filled mat that stretches across the road.

Allen was one of many law enforcement officers who joined the pursuit of Phillips.

Colebrook police officers began the pursuit when they saw' Phillips driving and knew he was under license suspension. He was pursued into parts of Vermont, back into New Hampshire at West Stewartstown through Colebrook and then back into Vermont.

Near Maidstone Lake the car reportedly slowed but did not stop. Phillips pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and Denise Goff, 45, "fell" from the car, according to Essex County Deputy Sheriff Stewart Walling.

walling picked Goff up and broke off his pursuit.

Also involved in the pursuit were Allen, U.S Border Patrol agents, Groveton, Pittsburgh and Lancaster police officers and Vermont and New Hampshire state police officers.

when the vehicle did stop and Phillips was identified as the driver, he was arrested. An Essex District Court case has begun with Phillips pleading innocent to charges of DLS, attempting to elude and grossly negligent operation.

With Allen being charged with an alleged criminal act in Essex County, he may be joining Phillips as a criminal court defendant.

It is alleged that Allen fired his gun at the fleeing vehicle in an effort to' flatten a tire on the car.

Paul's decision to charge Allen will be followed by her filling the necessary paperwork with the district court in Guildhall. Included in the paperwork is the charging information and Investigating state police Sgt. Roland Prairie's affidavit to the court.

From there, a judge must find probable cause for the case before Allen is arraigned.

The state's attorney said her decision to charge Allen was made after receiving the results of Prairie's investigation. She called Prairie's work on the case "thorough" and supportive of the reckless endangerment charge.

currently, Allen's status as Stewartstown police officer is on hold. Select hoard Chairman Dwight Dwinell said the investigation of Mien caused the board to put him on administrative leave.

Dwinell said if and when Allen faces court action, the selectmen will have further discussions on his role as town police officer.

"I don't know' that we've got all of the details (yet)," said Dwinell.

For now, the omission of Allen through administrative leave has caused the town to depend more on the state police, said Dwinell.

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Copyright 1997

The Caledonian-Record

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