WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A Pawtucket police officer on trial for shooting a teenage driver during a confrontation in West Greenwich took the stand Tuesday to defend his actions.

Officer Daniel Dolan, 40, faces felony assault charges in the June 2021 shooting outside a pizza shop on Route 3. The shooting was deemed unjustified, but Dolan maintains that he was acting in the interest of public safety, as well as his own safety.

Dolan was the only witness called by the defense after the state rested its case Tuesday morning. He answered questions from his lawyer about what happened that day and what was going through his mind.

Surveillance video from the scene shows a car driven by Dominic Vincent, then 18 years old, pull into the parking lot before Dolan’s pickup truck pulls up beside it. Dolan then gets out of his truck and approaches the car, which backs up off screen as Dolan follows.

It was then, according to police, that Dolan fired a single shot into the vehicle and hit Vincent in the arm.

Vincent told police he tried to flee since he wasn’t aware of what was happening and didn’t know Dolan was a police officer, since he was in plainclothes and driving his personal vehicle.

While the prosecution claims Dolan was beside the car when he opened fire, he said he reached for his gun because he feared he was going to be run over.

“I believed that I was going to fall in front of the vehicle and get trapped under the vehicle and dragged down the road and seriously injured or killed,” Dolan recalled. “I was reluctant to go for my firearm, it was a last-second decision.”

“I don’t think any police officer ever wants to use that, and I know I especially did not,” he added.

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Dolan said he was on his way home at the time and followed the car into the parking lot because he thought it may be fleeing from a crime. A Rhode Island State Police sergeant testified last week that Vincent was driving more than 100 mph.

Dolan talked Tuesday about his job as a school resource officer. He said when he saw Vincent’s car, the worst-case scenarios went through his mind, and he wanted to have a “fatherly talk” with him about his driving habits.

“It seems like every couple months I turn on the news and there’s a couple teenagers killed in a crash. Working with kids every day, it’s something that I think about,” Dolan said on the stand. “My conscience would get the best of me if I had turned on the news the next morning and read, heard, about a black Audi smashed with dead teenagers inside. I couldn’t live with myself, and I don’t think any police officer could, to be honest.”

During the state’s cross-examination, Dolan conceded that he had no authority to pull someone over in West Greenwich, but said he was “obligated by his heart” to intervene.

Prosecutors suggested the victims may have viewed Dolan’s approach as a road rage incident in which he was the aggressor.

“It’s possible initially until I present the badge,” Dolan said in response.

The state argued Dolan put himself in that situation and acted out of anger.

“Sir, you are talking like this is a takedown of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan,” a prosecutor said. “This is a pizza place in West Greenwich with three teenagers.”

Dolan also admitted that the truck he was driving was unregistered since he had recently bought it, and he illegally put inspection stickers on it.

The defense rested its case following Dolan’s testimony.

The trial will resume with closing arguments Wednesday morning.