2 Providence police officers suspended amid use-of-force investigation

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two members of the Providence Police Department have been suspended with pay amid a review of their use of force while arresting three teenagers after an hours-long police chase through the city earlier this month.

Officers Domingo Diaz and Mitchel Voyer have been suspended pending a use-of-force investigation into the July 9 arrest, according to Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré.

Paré declined to comment on what specifically the officers are accused of doing during the arrest of the teens, though he said they did not discharge any weapons.

The three juvenile suspects were arrested on charges including assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy following a police pursuit that ended with a crash on Salmon Street.

According to a police report, the black BMW convertible with tinted windows and Wyoming plates driven by one of the teens had been spotted operating recklessly multiple times throughout the city on the night of July 8 into the morning of July 9, refusing to stop for police and running red lights. At one point a woman called police to report a rifle had been pointed at her from the car before it took off.

Patrolman John Najarian wrote in a report that he spotted the vehicle on North Main Street and followed it into a parking lot. He wrote that a “bald, male subject” stood up inside the vehicle with the roof down, then “turned around and pointed a firearm at me.”

The vehicle did not stop for Najarian when he activated his lights and sirens, and also evaded a slew of other police officers throughout the city, the report states. Two police cruisers also crashed into each other while trying to avoid being hit by the BMW.

The chase ended when the BMW lost control and crashed into a fire hydrant on Salmon Street. The report says the three teens — ages 16, 15, and 15 — were “brought to the ground” and handcuffed.

The report does not contain any description of force by the officers or shed light on what may have led to the two officers’ suspensions. Police declined to release the body camera footage.

After apprehending the suspects, police said they seized two BB guns from their vehicle.

In the days that followed, police began to review the circumstances of the arrest and eventually enacted the state’s use-of-force protocol late last week, according to Paré’s office, which triggers a joint investigation between the R.I. Attorney General’s Office, R.I. State Police and Providence Police.

Paré said he would not get into the specifics of the use of force during the arrest until the investigation is complete.

One of the three teens was hospitalized, according to police.

Steph Machado contributed to this report.

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