WEST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police are investigating after an environmental police officer discharged his weapon during an incident Saturday at Big River Management Area in West Greenwich.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) said the officer opened fire after he was hit and injured by a man on a dirt bike. No one was struck by the gunfire.
The officer was enforcing a ban on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles when he was hit around 12:30 p.m. near the Reynolds Pond access gate. Those vehicles can only be ridden with a special-use permit since they can cause ecological damage, according to the DEM.
The officer has since been treated at Kent Hospital and released.
DEM police said Austin Dipeitro was arrested following the incident on charges of assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer in the execution of duty, failure to stop or move on an oral command of an environmental police officer, and driving in an attempt to elude an officer.
DiPeitro, 22, of Coventry, was released on $2,000 surety bail.
Jonathan Maaz, 23, and Tyler Perry, 24, both of Warwick, were also taken into custody, according to the DEM.
Maaz was charged with obstructing a police officer, failure to stop or move on the command of an officer, and one count of eluding an officer. He was released on personal recognizance.
Perry was charged with one count of obstruction and released on a summons to appear in court.
All three men were also charged with civil violations related to park rules and regulations.
The DEM says the use-of-deadly-force investigation follows the protocol established by the attorney general’s office and will seek to determine the “appropriateness of the officer’s action.”