Pawtucket Police release details on deadly officer involved shooting

Tape at the crime scene of a Pawtucket officer-involved shooting. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News.

By Tessa Roy, WPRO News

Pawtucket Police released new details late Monday afternoon about Friday’s officer involved shooting that killed 28-year-old DaShawn Cole, but some questions remain as the investigation continues.

Police said officers were responding to an early morning call about a man with a gun near Newport Avenue when Officer Ana Vertentes saw Cole, who matched the description given. Police said when Vertentes tried to approach Cole, who police said was armed, he “immediately attacked her.”

Police said a “violent struggle” between the two ensued, resulting in Vertentes firing her gun. When backup Officers William Briggs and Dianne Rittman-McLaughlin stepped in, a still-armed Cole “confronted” them and they opened fire, police said.

Officers on scene performed CPR and other life-saving measures on Cole, but he later died at the hospital. Vertentes, Briggs, and Rittman-McLaughlin were placed on administrative leave, per protocol.

Though police said Cole had a gun during the entire encounter, they did not say if he ever fired it.

The new information comes after the Rhode Island ACLU on Monday said “silence” from Pawtucket investigators created an atmosphere of “mistrust and suspicion” that may be unnecessary.

“This complete secrecy simply is not acceptable for a police department to be engaged in that type of silence,” said Executive Director Steven Brown.

Pawtucket Police had held a press conference on Friday afternoon, hours after the shooting. At that time, they said the shooting happened after Cole committed a felony assault with a firearm on an officer, but cited the ongoing nature of the investigation when they declined to answer a number of questions from reporters.

The ACLU demanded a review of the Pawtucket Police’s “training and practices,” calling 7 deadly police involved shooting there since 2006 “disproportionate.”

In a statement responding to the ACLU’s charges, Pawtucket Public Safety Director/Retired Colonel Jim Vartanian promised a thorough investigation and for information to be released when it’s appropriate.

“We appreciate the role that the ACLU plays in helping to defend and preserve individual rights and liberties for our nation’s citizens. In the matter of the officer involved shooting on Newport Avenue on the morning of Friday, 9/7/2018, the Pawtucket Police Department, the Rhode Island State Police and the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office are conducting a thorough investigation,” he said. “The information will be released as soon as possible and at the appropriate time. Please rest assured that more information regarding the shooting will be forthcoming, and that it will be as transparent as possible as the investigation continues and ultimately comes to conclusion.”