WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket police officer on trial for shooting a teenager while off-duty has been acquitted of all charges.
Emotions ran high in the courtroom Thursday afternoon as the jury foreperson announced Officer Daniel Dolan was found not guilty of three counts of felony assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of discharging a firearm while committing an act of violence.
There were cries of joy from Dolan’s family, while the family of the victim, Dominic Vincent, expressed anger with the outcome.
“All counts?! My son meant nothing!” Lisa Vincent exclaimed outside court. “They let him get away. They know people.”
His dad, Robert Vincent, said: “The justice system is [expletive].”
Dolan offered few words to reporters, but his attorney, Michael Colucci, said it’s been a long year and a half and maintained that his client was never in the wrong.
“He always tried to do what he felt was right, as he’s been doing for 16 years — first as a soldier, now as a policeman,” Colucci said.
“His intentions were always good, and thankfully, Mr. Vincent survived and is in good shape by all appearances,” he added.
Dolan’s father, Daniel Dolan Sr., expressed relief that the trial is behind them.
“We wish Dominic Vincent and his family all the best, full recovery, and just … glad it’s over,” he said.
Watch: Dolan verdict is read in court (story continues below)
Jury deliberations began on Wednesday, but had to start over Thursday morning after one of the jurors had to be replaced after testing positive for COVID-19. One of the two alternates who was dismissed on Wednesday was brought back to take that person’s place.
The twelve jurors had to decide whether or not Dolan committed assault when he shot at a car containing Vincent and two of his friends in June 2021. Vincent, who was driving, was hit in the arm, but he survived.
Surveillance video from the incident showed Vincent’s car pull into the parking lot of a pizza shop on Route 3 in West Greenwich before Dolan’s pickup truck immediately pulled up beside it. Dolan—who was off duty at the time—then got out of his truck and approached Vincent’s car, which backed out of the lot and off camera.
It was then, according to police, that Dolan opened fire. He was later charged after investigators determined the shooting was not justified.
In explaining his actions, Dolan said he saw Vincent speeding on I-95 and followed him into the parking lot to talk to him. He told the court he felt obligated to intervene.
“…and if he had just ignored it and gone home and then read the next day that Audi had perhaps killed someone and he did nothing about it, could you imagine if someone knew he was right there?” Dolan’s defense attorney, Michael Colucci, said during his closing argument on Wednesday.
When Vincent put the car in reverse and tried to drive off, Dolan said he pulled out his gun out of fear that he was going to be run over.
Vincent told police he tried to drive off because he wasn’t sure what was going on and didn’t know Dolan was a police officer, since Dolan was wearing plainclothes and in his personal vehicle.
During his closing argument, assistant Rhode Island Attorney General John Corrigan suggested that Dolan acted out of anger, not concern. He said it wasn’t his job to track down Vincent since he was outside his jurisdiction.
“He knows he could certainly call 911 to report what’s going on. It’s not his responsibility,” Corrigan said. “No one wants a Ford F-350 trying to track down a speeder.”
Dolan had been suspended without pay from the Pawtucket Police Department since his arrest. Now that he’s been acquitted, a spokesperson for the city told 12 News his status will be changed to suspended with pay, and he’ll also be able to receive back pay for the time he went unpaid, as stated in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR).
As for his job, the city’s police chief and acting public safety director, Tina Goncalves, released a statement saying an internal investigation is ongoing.
“Throughout this criminal investigation, the Police Department has been conducting an internal parallel investigation,” Goncalves wrote. “The Pawtucket Police Department will continue the internal investigation and consult with the city’s outside legal counsel to pursue employment discipline for violations of policies, rules, and regulations of the Police Department in accordance with LEOBOR.”