A Pawtucket, Rhode Island police officer is facing four felony charges after he allegedly shot without justification toward a car filled with allegedly unarmed teenagers who were exiting a pizzeria parking lot. The officer’s bullet struck the driver in the upper arm, the Office of the Rhode Island Attorney General said Friday.
Surveillance camera footage from the parking lot of Wicked Good Pizza in West Greenwich was released last week revealing some of what happened in the moments before Pawtucket Police Officer Daniel Dolan fired at the black Audi being driven by 18-year-old Dominic Vincent on June 23. His friends, brothers Vincent Greco Jr., 18, and Joseph Greco, 17, were also in the car at the time of the shooting.
Dolan was off duty at the time.
The footage, first obtained by Providence, R.I. ABC affiliate WLNE-TV, shows a black Audi sedan being driven by Vincent slowly pull into the pizzeria parking with a white pickup truck in close pursuit. After entering the lot, the truck goes around the left side of the Audi, cutting the vehicle off in a police-style maneuver. Dolan, dressed in plain clothes, immediately exits the vehicle and draws a handgun from a waist holster. The Audi goes into reverse and retreats from the parking lot with Dolan, with his gun pointed at the car, following close behind. The car and Dolan exit the frame for a few seconds; Dolan runs back to his truck and quickly exits the lot in the same direction as the Audi.
Per the attorney general, Dolan fired at the car before Vincent was able to drive out of the parking lot.
Dolan told investigators with the West Greenwich Police Department and the Rhode Island State Police that he followed the vehicle to the pizzeria “because he thought it had been involved in a crime and he wanted to speak with the operator to prevent him from ‘possibly injuring somebody,’” The Providence Journal reported, citing to court documents filed Thursday in Kent County Superior Court.
Dolan said that he stepped in front of the car but Vincent would not stop, according to the newspaper report. He claimed he fired his gun because he thought he was going to be run over.
Vincent told investigators that he drove off after being shot but pulled over quickly. Dolan, who he said was next to the car when he fired his pistol, followed him and allegedly questioned him about what he had been doing.
“I’m like . . . why does it matter what I’m doing, like, you . . . you just shot me,” Vincent told investigators, according to a transcript of his interview obtained by Providence CBS affiliate WPRI. “[Dolan] is just babbling on about how he wanted to get home to his kids and I tried to run him over, which as I’ve stated multiple times, you can’t run someone over when they’re right next to you.”
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said that prosecutors “believe [Dolan’s] actions were not justified” during a Friday press conference to announce the charges, adding, “We believe there is probable cause a crime was committed.”
Dolan was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm in a crime of violence.
Attorney Michael J. Colucci, who is representing Dolan in the matter, told WPRI this week that the teens’ accounts of what transpired was “highly disputed.”
“In various circumstances, police officers, even when off-duty, are expected to take action if they can, when they see something afoot,” he said.
Dolan is due back in court on July 16 according to an online docket.
[image via WPRI screengrab]
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