The man who rammed his pickup truck into Taneytown City Hall after the city shut off his water about a year ago has been sentenced to serve 18 months in the Carroll County Detention Center.
Rodney W. Davis, 56, of Taneytown pleaded guilty on June 16 to first-degree assault and malicious destruction of property valued at more than $1,000, online court records show. On Tuesday, Judge Fred S. Hecker sentenced Davis in Carroll County Circuit Court, according to a news release from the Office of the State’s Attorney for Carroll County.
“The court has to send a message to Mr. Davis and others who would consider taking out their frustrations that this kind of conduct is unacceptable and carries with it consequences,” Hecker said at the sentencing, according to the release.
Taneytown police arrested Davis at about 5:47 p.m. Aug. 30, 2019, when they arrived at the municipal office at 17 E. Baltimore St. and found Davis’ blue Dodge Dakota “halfway into the city office” and Davis still in the driver’s seat, according to charging documents. Multiple witnesses and video footage indicated that Davis had driven into the front of the building and backed up to ram it again multiple times.
Davis was sentenced to 10 years, suspending all but 18 months, for the assault charge and three years, suspending all but 18 months, for malicious destruction of property, the release states. The two sentences will be served concurrently for a total of 18 months. Upon his release, Davis will have to pay $51,735.99 in restitution to the City of Taneytown.
According to Maryland sentencing guidelines, one to six years of incarceration were recommended for Davis’ case, an Office of the State’s Attorney spokesperson said.
City council member Joseph Vigliotti was on the phone with Davis’ wife after their water was shut off on the day of the attack, the release states. He heard Davis over the phone laughing and said he was “done with the city” and was going to crash into the office, according to the release.
Vigliotti and a city employee who was in the building at the time of the crash offered victim impact statements in court Tuesday. The council member said Davis “has irrevocably taken away that sense of security” of City Hall employees who “work quietly, making sure day-to-day operations and services of the city are completed,” the release reads.
Jacob Gruentzel, information technology manager for Taneytown, was inside the building during the incident. He yelled at Davis through his vehicle’s open window while the truck was inside the building, but Davis continued, reversing and driving into the building six times, according to the release. At one point, his entire truck was inside the building. Gruentzel retreated to a safe location within the building and contacted emergency services.
Gruentzel said in court Tuesday that Taneytown employees still fear they could be targeted again. He described the incident as “a whirlwind of unbridled panic and terror,” the release states.
Public defender Lee McNulty represented Davis in court. He wrote in an email Tuesday that Davis “expressed sincere remorse” and apologized to the city and to Gruentzel during the sentencing.
“Judge Hecker, as always, considered the evidence and weighed arguments from both sides before imposing the sentence,” McNulty wrote.
State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said that such an attack on government won’t be tolerated.
“The physical damage to City Hall caused by his outrageous behavior is evident to anyone who sees the building, but the unseen psychological and emotional damage to the public servants that work inside of that building and who had their sense of security eviscerated continues to this day,” he said in the release.
About a year after the incident, Taneytown City Hall is close to being reopened.
Jim Wieprecht, city manager, wrote in an email that carpeting was installed Monday and tile was planned to go in Tuesday. The city is waiting for furniture to be delivered for the finance office.
Although the construction is nearing its end, Wieprecht said Monday the date to reopen to the public has yet to be determined.
Mayor Bradley Wantz was in the courtroom Tuesday when the sentence was handed down.
“It does bring closure,” he said in an interview.
While he doesn’t celebrate the incarceration of people, Wantz said this case shows there are consequences to actions.
In the past year the community has worked to heal from the attack, but the effect on city staff is long lasting, Wantz said. Prior to the incident, the city had been considering security upgrades.
“This kind of pushed us to doing that sooner rather than later,” he said.
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Some of the upgrades include more fortified walls and windows separating the public from staff, according to Wantz. He said the city would provide more information about the reopening at a later date.