DEM: Environmental police officer shoots at dirt bike rider
WEST GREENWICH, R.I. (WLNE) An Environmental Police Officer (EPO) fired his gun at a dirt bike rider who struck and injured him, according to the Department of Environmental Management.
The D.E.M. said it happened at the Big River Management Area in West Greenwich at about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Under state regulations, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited in state management areas, unless allowed through a special use permit.
The D.E.M. arrested Austin DiPeitro, 22, of Coventry, charging him with assaulting a police officer, among other charges.
After being processed at DEM’s Wickford marine base in North Kingstown yesterday, DiPeitro was released on $2,000 surety bail with court dates still to be scheduled.
Jonathan C. Maaz, 23, of Warwick, and Tyler Perry, 24, of Warwick were also arrested.
Local resident and ATV rider Glen Lindsay said situations like this could be avoided if riders had more places to go.
"Obviously chasing down an officer is not the way to do your riding. You can be upset about it but the rules state we're not allowed to ride," Lindsay said. " It's kind of upsetting... there's no place for anyone to go and ride. So when they do... I guess it gets a little rowdy."
Following the use-of-deadly force protocol established by the Office of Attorney General, the Rhode Island State Police are leading the investigation into the incident.
According to Chris Menton, Professor of Criminal Justice at Roger Williams University, lethal force comes down to the situation, which always varies.
"You can't fire on a fleeing felon unless you're sure this person was presenting an immediate danger to you or someone else," he said. "If you can't catch him you can't have him."
But because the unidentified officer was allegedly assaulted, it changes everything.
"This officer was assaulted so it's reasonable to expect that he felt that he was in danger," Menton added.