Grand Jury Refuses To Indict Correction Officer Who Drove Through ICE Protesters

A Rhode Island grand jury refused to indict the correctional captain who drove through protesters to get to work.

Providence, RI - A grand jury refused to indict a correctional officer who drove his truck through a crowd of protesters who were trying to stop him from getting to work at a facility that houses U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees on Aug. 14.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said that the 23-member grand jury failed to get the 12 votes needed to hand down an indictment against former Wyatt Detention Facility Correctional Captain Thomas Woodworth, the Boston Globe reported.

“The criminal justice system is not a perfect instrument,” Neronha told reporters when he made the announcement. “Sometimes it is a blunt instrument, and it is not a scalpel. There can be conduct which objectively is wrong yet doesn’t rise to the level of criminal misconduct.”

The incident occurred when anti-ICE protesters sat on the pavement blocking access to the parking for employees of the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, the Associated Press reported.

That’s when a uniformed correctional officer, driving a black pickup truck, arrived for work and wanted to get into the parking lot.

That correctional officer was later identified as Capt. Woodworth, and he resigned on Aug. 16, two days after the altercation, WBZ reported.

A video of the incident posted to social media showed protesters were sitting on the ground in a line in front of the parking lot entrance with their arms linked, chanting and holding signs, when the correctional officer arrived for work.

The video showed the pickup truck stopped abruptly when it got to the protesters, and then the driver blew the horn to tell them to move out of the way.

But instead of clearing a path for the correctional officer on his way to work, the protesters stood up and held their hands up to the truck, commanding the driver to stop, the video showed.

The protesters quickly surrounded the front of the black truck and when the driver honked the horn again, they began pounding on the vehicle’s hood.

Despite the brouhaha in front of him, Capt. Woodworth crept forward slowly and made his way through the aggressive crowd that continued to bang on his car and scream at him as he made his way to work, the video showed.

The protesters began chanting “the whole world is watching” as the pickup came to a stop. Then the surrounded the truck and banged on it and chanted.

Police officers who were detailed to work the protest failed to intervene in the melee, The Washington Post reported.

But other correctional officers deployed pepper spray to disperse the unruly crowd and Capt. Woodworth was able to walk into the prison after parking.

Never Again Action, a Jewish youth organization, said that the truck struck two of the protesters who refused to move out of the way, the Associated Press reported.

They said 64-year-old Jerry Belair suffered a broken leg and internal bleeding from the impact of the truck, and claimed another protester had been injured by the truck, but did not offer a name or proof of the injuries, the Associated Press reported.

Never Again Action also said three protesters were treated for pepper spray inhalation after detention center employees used the chemical to break up the crowd banging on the pickup truck.

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office promised the protesters a thorough investigation when the incident occurred, and the attorney general was the one who gave the protesters the bad news after the grand jury refused to indict former Capt. Woodworth.

Neronha said law enforcement had conducted an “extremely thorough” investigation that included interviews with more than 70 witnesses, according to the Boston Globe.

Investigators not only explored the former correctional captain’s actions that night but also those of the correctional officers who came out of the facility and deployed pepper spray on the crowd to help former Capt. Woodworth get inside the building.

Protesters complained about the way the grand jury was introduced to the evidence, the Boston Globe reported.

“Witnesses who testified before the grand jury, including those who were hit by the truck, reported that prosecutors focused only on the supposed ‘danger’ of unarmed protesters in an effort to justify Woodworth’s and his colleagues’ self-evidently indefensible actions,” the group Never Again Action complained.

But the attorney general maintained that he had assigned his best prosecutors to the case, according to the Boston Globe.

“You ask tough questions in grand juries,” Neronha said. “It’s understandable that there are instances when witnesses may read into the questions things that may not be there.”

Jared A. Goldstein, the associate dean for academic affairs at the Roger Williams University School of Law, was one of the protesters who appeared before the grand jury.

Goldstein complained to the Boston Globe that prosecutors “came in with an agenda to show this use of violence was somehow justified.”

The attorney for former Capt. Woodworth maintained that his client had no intention of hurting any of the protesters the night of the incident.

“People were pounding on his truck, it was a chaotic situation,” Gary G. Pelletier told the Boston Globe. “He believes the protesters are starting to move to get out of his way, and he goes forward, but there was never intent to hurt anyone.”

Comments (22)
No. 1-17
IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Well, if they hadn't been obstructing the entrance, and hadn't been banging on his truck, none of this would have happened.

You want to protest? Fine, hold your protest in the sidewalk, and make fools of yourself from a safe location. But blocking the entrance way is wrong, and if you hadn't been in the roadway, none of this would have happened.

DNW
DNW

So there was nothing illegal about obstructing his access to work or laying hands on the vehicle in a threatening manner? A shame he had to resign over this stupid incident.

Dr Shoe
Dr Shoe

I believe that We should be able to drive Over protesters anywhere, any time! You block the road, you suffer the consequences, roadways are for motor vehicles, not pedestrians!

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

Why the hell did he resign? Should have been promoted to jail commander 👍🏾

DNW
DNW

North Carolina passed a bill a couple of years ago protecting drivers from civil liability in cases like this one. As long as the driver is not intentionally targeting protestors and 'uses due care' s/he cannot be held responsible for any injuries they incur as human roadblocks. Not sure if any other states have similar protections, clearly not RI.

jessesgirl929
jessesgirl929

The "right to peaceful protest" does not give people the right to block roads/driveways or put your hands on people or their personal property. All the protesters should have been charged for their actions.

Anti infiltrators
Anti infiltrators

Why no charges for the illegal blocking of the drive, the intentional attempts to damage his property. I would have never resigned. If they fired me for that, I would sue them into oblivion!

NickyJ
NickyJ

Good for the grand jury

MizzV
MizzV

This makes me SO happy, thank you Grand Jurors for having decency and good sense!

These protesters are LAW BREAKERS and out of control!!!

LEO0301
LEO0301

Crimes were committed here but not by the correction officers. In my mind, the only investigation should have been the unlawful behavior of the protestors.

Vicaurelio 4559
Vicaurelio 4559

These assaults on Law Enforcement can not be tolerated any longer.These protestors should have not blocked access by Sorounding the car and banging on it they posed a threat to the officer.These spineless politicians sidew enforcement with the criminal protesters, the day is coming when the mob will take over the streets then let these Lilly livered politicians ask law enforcement for help

Milman
Milman

So, what was the purpose of the protest? Biggest question:. Why didn't the police officers assugned, help these men out? If I was one of you I'd be ashamed of myself!

Stanracer
Stanracer

Finally, a grand jury with some balls. Hey, you block the road, you getting over. Lesson learned!🤣👍

Vodkabreakfast
Vodkabreakfast

Somebody owes this man a car wash and polish, plus an uninterrupted opportunity to spit in the coffee of every one of the human panty-liners who created that untidy event.

GeeGirl
GeeGirl

I see the terrorists are at it again!

Caroparks53
Caroparks53

Re-instate this man..but i really hope he has moved on to a job where he is backed by his boss

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

If my child was protesting ICE and standing in the way of a truck as it attempted to pull into their parking lot, I’d slap the shit out of my child but I know my child isn’t an entitled moron and wouldn’t be involved with such poor decision making.

As a society, we’re in trouble. Our education system is indoctrinating the hell out of these kids. They’re cramming this BS doomsday global warming down their throats. Then there the Racism and Injustice crutch.

When I was a kid, they indoctrinated us as well but it was patriotism towards our great nation. They used things like evidence to teach us. It’s funny. They taught us that the earth was facing another ice age because from the 40s through the mid 70s, the earth was cooling.

I guess we all live in silos and have poor vision.