Neronha: Wyatt protest investigation focuses on truck, pepper-spray
A still from video posted by Never Again Action purports to show a cloud from pepper-spray used against demonstrators outside the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2019. (WJAR)

The Wyatt Detention Center Corrections Officer who moved his truck into a crowd of protesters on the night of Aug. 14 has resigned.

He has not been charged with any crime, but the investigation continues.  

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha addressed reporters about the case on Wednesday. 

"To the outside world, they may think the conclusions are obvious,I don’t necessarily agree. We have to proceed with deliberations so we get it right, so that whatever conclusions we make, if they are in fact at some point to go forward we’re prepared to go forward," Neronha told reporters.

He said there is plenty of video from cellphones and television crews and even from the prison's surveillance cameras. He added that investigators have interviewed 31 people and knows of another 20 that detectives are preparing to interview.

Neronha was asked at the news conference if the protesters had broken the law when they surrounded the truck and tried to block the driver from entering the parking lot

"Certainly. If you obstruct a roadway for example, a right of egress or access, that could in theory be a crime. I don't want to get too much into the specifics here, but I will tell you our principal focus is on the operation of the vehicle in question, and the deployment of pepper spray."

The attorney general said no more than a half dozen people needed treatment, adding the investigation will wrap up in a couple of weeks.

However, he's still interested in speaking with anyone who can shed light on the circumstances. "We want to speak with anyone who has information regarding what occurred that night -- what they saw, what they heard, and what injuries they suffered."

Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa said in a statement that his office reached out to the attorney general's office to ask them to lead the investigation.

"Due to the grave and serious nature of the night’s events, our first calls were to the Attorney General's office to ask if they would lead the investigation and we are grateful for their professionalism and their deliberative approach to this important undertaking," said Diossa in a statement.

Attorney General Peter Neronha says he wants anyone who witnessed a confrontation outside the Wyatt detention center to come forward.

Diossa echoed Neronha's call for additional witnesses. 

Wyatt has a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Any witnesses or video shooters can contact Central Falls police, or state police, or the Attorney General's Office.


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