Warwick police officers found justified in 2022 lobby shooting

WARWICK, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office found that four Warwick police officers were “objectively reasonable” when they shot at a man who attacked an officer with a knife last year.

The incident happened at the Warwick Police Department Headquarters on Jan. 14, 2022.

Police said Jacob Thomas jumped at an officer — later identified as Jessica Masso — and stabbed her in the torso in the lobby. She wasn’t injured because she was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Thomas, 30, was then shot by the four officers, including by the one who was stabbed, after failing to ignore their repeated commands to drop his knife. Even after being shot, he still held on to the knife until police tased him.

Police said then they immediately provided medical aid and he was taken to Rhode Island Hospital.

Thomas, of Warwick, survived the shooting and was charged with felony assault.

In accordance with the Use of Force Policy, the officers involved were placed on a nonpunitive leave while the incident was under review.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said Thursday that based on the facts of the investigation and the applicable law, Sgt. Walter Larsen, Officer Oliver Pinheiro, Masso, and Officer Michael Bailey’s use of deadly force in defense of themselves was reasonable and necessary.

As a result, Neronha said this case is being closed.

“From the start we have maintained that our officers responded to the attack in the lobby professionally, heroically and in accordance with department policy and law,” Chief Brad Connor told ABC 6 News Thursday. “Even though it was necessary for the officers to use lethal force during the encounter, they were able to de-escalate when appropriate and then render lifesaving care to the attacker.”

Thomas’ attorney told ABC 6 that he’s “grateful” that his client and the officers involved were not killed.

“My client has well-documented mental health issues that are being adequately addressed by healthcare professionals,” said John Calcagni. “As such, I am pursuing a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Defense on his behalf, which I am hopeful will lead to his ultimate exoneration.”

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