PROVIDENCE – An Environmental Police Officer (EPO) discharged his service weapon after being struck and injured by a man on a dirt bike at the Big River Management Area in West Greenwich at about 12:30 PM Saturday, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced. 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.
The incident happened near the Reynolds Pond access gate at Big River. The EPO was taken by ambulance to Kent County Hospital. DEM is responsible for managing the 8,000-acre parcel, which is owned by the RI Water Resources Board. Under state regulations, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited in state management areas – unless allowed through a special use permit – because they can cause ecological damage.
DEM arrested Austin DiPeitro, 22, of 14 Clover Drive, Coventry, charging him with one count of assaulting a police officer, one count of obstructing a police officer in execution of duty, one count of failure to stop or move on an oral command of an environmental police officer, and one count of reckless driving in an attempt to elude an officer – first offense. 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.
Also arrested were Jonathan C. Maaz, 23, of 51 Montcalm Road in Warwick, and Tyler Perry, 24, of Lane 4, Warwick. Maaz was charged with one count of obstructing a police officer, one count of failure to stop or move on command of an officer, and one count of eluding an officer – first offense and released on personal recognizance bail. Perry was charged with one count of obstruction and released on a summons to appear. DiPeitro, Maaz, and Perry all were charged with civil violations related to parks rules and regulations.