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I-Team: Firefighter retires hours before city tries to fire him

A Providence firefighter submitted retirement papers to the city on Tuesday, just hours before a hearing was set to begin in an attempt to fire him.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare confirmed 50-year-old William Baxter's retirement to the NBC 10 I-Team.

In a police report dated July 18, 2012, Hopkinton police began chasing a Toyota Corolla on Main Street at about 1:15 a.m. The driver was later identified as Baxter.

Police said Baxter pulled onto Interstate 95 South and sped off.

"I observed my speed to be 85 mph and I was not closing in on the suspect vehicle," the responding officer wrote.

After Baxter's car went airborne on the side of the highway, police said he crashed into some shrubs and fled on foot.

An officer witnessed Baxter scale a chain link fence and cross Route 184 in Connecticut.

Richmond police, Rhode Island State Police and Connecticut State Police joined the chase with a K-9 unit.

A Richmond officer wrote that he "observed Baxter with thermal imaging, laying in the tall grass of a hay field."

Another patrolman said Baxter wouldn't acknowledge him; his speech was mumbled, slurred and difficult to understand.

"I detected a strong odor of an intoxicating beverage emanating from Baxter's breath," wrote the officer.

Baxter told police he was suffering from severe chest and shoulder pain. Police later found marijuana in Baxter's car and a partially smoked marijuana cigarette in his ashtray.

He was criminally charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and obstructing a police officer.

Baxter pled guilty to eluding police and resisting arrest. The two other charges were dismissed.

The International Association of Fire Fighters - Local 799, the union representing Baxter, declined to comment.

Baxter was a 23-year veteran of the Providence Fire Department.

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