In September of 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Smith issued a written decision in the case of Petro v. West Warwick. The case involved a wrongful death suit filed by the man's family against the Town of West Warwick, the West Warwick Police and two individual police officers. The Judge found the officers' actions grossly negligent. The decision later led to a settlement between the parties.
Two police officers had responded to a call about reported vandalism. When they arrived at the scene, they did not find any damage but did find the man nearby. Upon seeing police, the man began to walk away from them. Police later detained the man and arrested him for assault. The man, who suffered from mental health issues, resisted arrested, he was physically restrained and pepper sprayed by the police. While the man was in police custody, he suffered a heart attack and later died. It took police over four (4) minutes to administer CPR to the man, contributing to his death.
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