CHELSEA, Vt. — A New York City rabbi who kept driving when a Vermont state trooper tried to pull him over pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a charge of attempting to elude police in a traffic stop his family called traumatizing.
Rabbi Berl Fink appeared in court Wednesday. He’s accused of failing to stop for suspected speeding for 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) on a remote interstate highway in Thetford, Vermont, in August.
Police video shows that after the rabbi pulled over, the trooper ordered him at gunpoint to lie on the ground and handcuffed him, his son and his wife.
The rabbi’s son has said he and his relatives felt they were targets of a terrorist attack.
A police investigation reviewed by the State Police Advisory Commission, comprised of Vermont residents, found that Trooper Justin Thompson acted according to his training and police policy and there was no evidence of bias.
Fink’s lawyer had said he hoped the case could be resolved without going to court and the prosecutor thought it fit the criteria for a count diversion program. But a condition of court diversion is to take responsibility for misdeeds and “the rabbi doesn’t think he committed any misdeeds,” said his lawyer Robert Appel on Wednesday.
The lawyer said that Fink didn’t understand the trooper was trying to stop him and that he was looking for a safe place with a guardrail to pull over.