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Off-Duty Rhode Island Cop Under Investigation For Shooting Teen Driver Leaving Pizzeria Parking Lot


A police officer in Rhode Island who shot an allegedly unarmed teenage driver while off-duty Wednesday evening has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, several news outlets reported this week.

A surveillance camera in the parking lot of Wicked Good Pizza in West Greenwich revealed some of what happened in the moments before Pawtucket Police Officer Daniel Dolan fired at a car carrying three teenagers, hitting the driver in the arm.

The footage, first obtained by Providence, R.I. ABC affiliate WLNE-TV, shows a black Audi sedan being driven by an 18-year-old male driver 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 immediately exits the vehicle and appears to draw a handgun from a waist holster. The Audi goes into reverse and retreats from the parking lot with Dolan, 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.

The state Office of the Attorney General on Thursday announced that the office, as well as the Rhode Island State Police and the West Greenwich Police Department, were jointly investigating the matter.

The AG’s press release stated that Dolan was off duty and traveling home on Route 95 Wednesday evening when he “encountered a black Audi sedan occupied by a driver and two passengers” and “attempted to detain the driver of the Audi.”

“In the ensuing moments, the details of which remain under investigation, Officer Dolan discharged his firearm, striking the driver of the Audi in the arm,” the release stated.

The teen, who has not been identified, was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

An attorney representing the three teens, two of whom are brothers, told WLNE-TV that there were no weapons in the Audi and none of the teens were aware that Dolan was a police officer.

“[The driver] said that he picked up his friends, they stopped at Walmart and they drove to the pizza restaurant,” Wakefield-based attorney James Howe told the television station. “And they drove on 95. Did not see that white truck before. And the first time they saw that white truck was when he drove into the parking lot, following them, almost driving into their vehicle.”

Howe also described what his client told him occurred when the car and Dolan exited the view of the security camera.

“[The driver’s] intention was to put his car into drive, take a hard right and get out of there,” Howe said. “The [off-duty] police officer follows. He goes kind of out of screen in the video and goes over the hood of the [Audi] and ends up on the driver’s side of the car and discharges his weapon, shoots my client.”

Howe said the teen driver was able to drive a few hundred feet from the lot before he pulled to the side of the road, noting that Dolan continued to pursue the vehicle.

“The police officer drives up to him, now to where he is, gets out of the car, lights a cigarette and offers no first aid or anything,” Howe said.

Investigators have not provided any reason as to why Dolan’s “encounter” with the Audi caused him to try and detain the car, nor has any explanation been provided as to why Dolan fired at the vehicle.

No charges have been filed, but Howe said the black Audi was impounded by law enforcement.

[image via WPRI /YouTube screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.