Washington County W2/15-54A Superior Court Bennett R. Gallo
Associate Justice .
Defendant: Camille A. McKenna Office of the Public Defender.
State: Lauren S. Zurier Department of Attorney General.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
MAUREEN McKENNA GOLDBERG, JUSTICE.
case, we are confronted with a ten-hour police standoff in
Hopkinton, Rhode Island, precipitated by a 911 call by the
longtime girlfriend of the defendant, Michael Neugent,
arising from a domestic dispute. The defendant's
mother-who was also his landlord-provided the responding
officer with keys to the defendant's apartment. The
defendant was barricaded inside the dwelling and threatened
to shoot the officer if he entered. Within minutes, officers
from multiple police departments, including the Rhode Island
State Police SWAT team and approximately twenty police
vehicles, surrounded the apartment building. After hours of
fruitless negotiations, the SWAT team, garbed in full
tactical gear and armed with assault weapons and explosives,
executed a forced entry into the defendant's apartment.
The defendant struck the first officer who came through the
door with an approximately three-foot-long construction
level. A brief struggle ensued; and, despite strenuous
resistance, the defendant was apprehended. He was later
charged with several counts, ultimately being convicted of
assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest.
case came before the Supreme Court on October 2, 2019, on a
writ of certiorari from a judgment of conviction following a
jury trial. Before this Court, defendant argues that
the trial justice erred by denying his motion for a new trial
because, he alleges, the trial justice overlooked and
misconceived material evidence. The parties were directed to
appear and show cause why the issues raised in the case
should not be summarily decided. After hearing the arguments
of counsel and examining the memoranda filed by the parties,
we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown, and we
proceed to decide the case at this time. For the reasons set
forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior
February 11, 2015, defendant was charged by criminal
information, in W2/15-54A, with one count of assault with a
dangerous weapon, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-5-2
(count one), and one count of resisting arrest, in violation
of G.L. 1956 § 12-7-10 (count two). A jury trial
commenced on October 25, 2016, and the jury heard from
several witnesses, including defendant and his girlfriend. We
summarize the testimony presented at trial.
John Forbes (Det. Forbes) of the Hopkinton Police Department
testified that, on October 11, 2014, he responded to a 911
call from defendant's longtime girlfriend, Joyce Kreyssig
(Kreyssig), about a domestic dispute at a duplex apartment
building located at 5 Side Hill Street in the town. Kreyssig
told Det. Forbes that she lived with defendant in apartment
5A and that he was the only person in the apartment at that
time. She also informed Det. Forbes that there was a
.22-caliber rifle in the bedroom.
Forbes testified that he proceeded to the common doorway of
the building, knocked on the separate inside door for
apartment 5A, announced himself as a Hopkinton police
officer, and requested that defendant open the door. After
receiving no response, Det. Forbes obtained keys to the
apartment from defendant's mother and landlord, Sandra
Neugent. When Det. Forbes returned to defendant's
apartment, he unlocked the doorknob; but before he could
unlock the deadbolt, he heard someone lock the door from the
inside. Detective Forbes again announced himself as a police
officer and instructed defendant to open the door. The
defendant refused, stating, among other things: "I have
a weapon pointed at you through this door. If you come
through this door, I'm going to use it on you."
Detective Forbes immediately evacuated the remaining
residents in the building, took cover, and called for backup.
A phalanx of police officers from the state police and the
Hopkinton and Richmond police departments responded to the
scene and surrounded the apartment building.
David Bassignani (Sgt. Bassignani), the commander of the
state police SWAT team, testified that, when he arrived,
state troopers from the Crisis Negotiation team were
communicating with defendant by cell phone. However, at some
point, defendant ended all communication. Because the police
believed that defendant's phone was no longer working,
the SWAT team approached the house, broke the front window,
and tossed a phone in a box-aptly described as a "throw
phone"-into the residence. The defendant threw the box
back out through the window. He then stood in the broken
window, "yelling and screaming" and holding an
approximately three-foot-long construction
level. Sergeant Bassignani decided to send in the
SWAT team to apprehend defendant.
entry team breached the door and entered defendant's
apartment, announcing their presence by yelling the words,
"State Police." Sergeant Bassignani, who was
holding a ballistic shield, entered first and immediately saw
defendant, who was wielding the construction level. The
defendant swung the level and struck the front of the shield,
forcing it against Sgt. Bassignani's face, causing injury
above his right eyebrow. The entry team swarmed defendant,
who, Sgt. Bassignani testified, "was in full resist
mode." He was ordered to stop resisting and get on the
Thomas Chabot (Cpl. Chabot) of the state police testified
that his role on the entry team was to cover Sgt.
Bassignani. When the entry team entered the apartment,
everyone yelled "State Police[, ]" as they do,
according to Cpl. Chabot, "prior to entering any
residence or upon making entry and crossing any
threshold[.]" Although it was dark, Cpl. Chabot saw
defendant lunge at Sgt. Bassignani with a long instrument,
forcing the shield against Sgt. ...