PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket police officer accused of shooting an 18-year-old man in the arm last month while off-duty pleaded not guilty in court Friday morning on four felony charges.
Officer Daniel Dolan, 38, was arraigned at Kent County Court on three counts of assault and one count of discharging a firearm in a crime of violence.
Dolan was released on $25,000 bail and was ordered to have no contact with the three teenagers involved in the encounter. He also surrendered all of his firearms.
Outside court, Dolan’s attorney Michael Colucci said his client was acting in the interest of public safety.
“Officer Dolan has spent the better part of the last 17 years serving and protecting – as a U.S. Marine and as a police officer for the city of Pawtucket – and that is exactly what he was doing that evening,” he said.
Dolan told detectives he got off work around 7:40 p.m. on June 23 and drove to a liquor store, where he purchased a six-pack of beer, opened one, and “took a sip” before continuing to drive home on I-95 South, according to prosecutors.
That was when Dolan told detectives he saw a black Audi, which was being driven by Dominic Vincent, speeding down the highway. Dolan claimed he thought the Audi might be involved in a high-speed pursuit with police, even though he didn’t see any cruisers giving chase.
Dolan followed Vincent off the highway and into the parking lot of Wicked Good Pizza in West Greenwich, where the teenager and his two friends told officers they were going to get pizza for a sleepover party.
Once in the parking lot, surveillance footage shows Dolan get out of his truck and attempt to stop the Audi from leaving. In the footage, he is seen holding up his police badge and his palm in an effort to tell the Vincent to stop.
Dolan told detectives he thought the car could be fleeing the scene of a crime, which is why he stepped in front of the car as Vincent tried to back out of the parking lot.
Prosecutors said Dolan then fired his department-issued weapon into the car, which struck Vincent in the upper arm. The shooting was not captured on surveillance footage because the car and Dolan had already moved out of frame.
Dolan passed a field sobriety test after the shooting and blew a .000 blood-alcohol content, according to prosecutors. He claimed that he fired the shot because he thought Vincent was about to run him over.
Vincent later told police he didn’t think Dolan was a real police officer since he was wearing street clothes and driving his personal truck.
R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office later determined the shooting was not justified.
“We are confident in the ability and efforts of the Attorney General’s Office that this sad sad affair is brought justice,” Vincent’s lawyer James Howe said following the arraignment.
Dolan remains on unpaid leave from the Pawtucket Police Department.