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Providence Police officer to not be charged in use of force incident involving arrest of three juveniles



Photo courtesy of Rhode Island Attorney General

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today the conclusion of an investigation into a July 9, 2021 use of force incident involving the arrest of three juveniles on weapons and other charges, following a high speed pursuit with the Providence and Pawtucket Police Departments.

Pursuant to the Attorney General’s Use of Force Protocol, the Office of Attorney General, together with the Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Office of Professional Responsibility, commenced an extensive investigation that included review of body worn camera footage, interviews of more than 30 witnesses, and consultation with two law enforcement use-of-force experts. Ultimately, the Office concluded that there existed sufficient evidence to present the evidence involving one of the officers to the Providence County grand jury, to determine whether there was probable cause that the officer’s use of force constituted criminal misconduct.

Following a three-day presentation of witnesses and evidence by prosecutors before the grand jury, the grand jury returned a “no true bill,” declining to charge Providence Police Officer Domingo Diaz with simple assault against one of the juveniles involved.

As has been previously publicly reported, on July 9, 2021, members of the Providence and Pawtucket Police departments responded to numerous reports of individuals shooting weapons from an SUV and dark convertible BMW. Multiple callers reported being shot in the face, head and body with BB guns. There were also reports of property damage. Police officers in pursuit were advised to assume that the weapons involved might be actual firearms, given the uncertainty based on public reports regarding the nature of the weapons involved.

After a 40-minute pursuit through multiple cities and towns, during which the operator of the vehicle pointed what appeared to be a rifle at one of the pursuing officers, the BMW crashed into a fire hydrant. Body-worn camera footage showed that the driver and rear passenger put up their hands in response to police commands. The front passenger did not. While the driver and rear passenger were taken into custody without further incident, multiple officers engaged in a struggle with the front passenger that lasted approximately one minute, before placing him under arrest.

The suspect was wearing a fanny pack across the front of his body, and at various times his hands and arms were unsecured and beneath his body in the vicinity of the fanny pack. Multiple officers stated in interviews that, based on their training and experience, they know fanny packs are frequently used to hide firearms. Body-worn camera footage depicted Providence Police Officer Domingo Diaz and others striking the front passenger multiple times in the head and neck area and torso. Officer Diaz’s use of force occurred over approximately 20 seconds. Other officers also reported using force during the arrest of this individual, though their actions were not visible on video.

The Office of Attorney General stated that they retained two separate use-of-force experts to review the actions of the officers involved. One of the experts found that the officers acted reasonably based upon the circumstances they were facing. A second expert found that some of the initial strikes were excessive and unreasonable, but could not render a conclusive opinion as to all of the strikes delivered.

The criminal cases against the three juveniles remain pending in Rhode Island Family Court.

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