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North Kingstown, RI police officer shot


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  • North Kingstown, RI police officer shot

    Catalano’s record never checked

    01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    By C. Eugene Emery Jr.

    Journal Staff Writer

    A North Kingstown policeman was unaware of David Catalano’s criminal record when he approached the North Kingstown resident’s home, later surrounded by police officers, above, on Sunday.

    The Providence Journal / file shot
    Why did the police go to David Catalano’s house without first checking his record?

    Officials from North Kingstown and East Greenwich said Monday that officers frequently respond to requests from other departments asking for a check on a resident, and that on Sunday, they were focused on quickly tracking down the car that had struck a 66-year-old gas station attendant in East Greenwich.

    In the space of about 21 minutes, Catalano allegedly hit the attendant with his vehicle, fled to his home in North Kingstown, was confronted by North Kingstown Officer Travis Maiato, shot him and stole his cruiser and drove back toward East Greenwich, where he was boxed in by police officers and captured.

    “You wouldn’t have time to run a check, especially with the car being followed [by a witness with a cell phone]” said East Greenwich Capt. William Higgins.

    In this case, rescue workers were being called to the gas station and there was no indication that the attendant, Clifford LeValley, was fatally injured — he was alert and talking to emergency personnel.

    Higgins said the East Greenwich police were scrambling to get North Kingstown police to track down the car as it crossed into that town.

    “You certainly want to get in touch with the other department right away. You don’t want to be running all sorts of checks because it takes time to get the information back,” said Higgins, explaining that it takes a few minutes to get registration information and a few minutes more to request a records check on an individual. “It’s not like you can hit a button and, all of a sudden, you can get everything on the guy. In this situation, the first thing would have been to notify the other department. The checks would have been run afterwards, because that takes time.”

    Even when they discovered that the car was registered to Catalano, they didn’t know if he was the driver.

    North Kingstown did not run a records check on Catalano either.

    “It was a simple notification,” said North Kingstown Police Chief Edward A. Charboneau. “That’s not something you look up somebody’s history [for], just to see if someone’s home in reference to a hit-and-run accident.” Officers make notifications like the one Maiato made Sunday “all the time for different police departments.”

    But this one was potentially deadly.

    Maiato was repeatedly shot at after Catalano heard over Maiato’s radio that the hit-and-run involved injuries and the East Greenwich police were coming to pick him up.

    A police check on Catalano would have shown he had multiple run-ins with the law dating to his teen years in Johnston, but little indication that he was a threat to police.

    The closest he came to harming an officer was in 2004 when he was charged with assault for allegedly poking a Johnston officer in the face while cursing him.

    When he was arrested in East Greenwich in March, it was after he showed up at the police station, apparently impaired, to complain that a woman was ruining his life. During the long interview, he had spurts of belligerence and acted as if he wanted to pick a fight with the officers who were interviewing him.

    He was forced to the ground by the police after he was told he was going to Kent Hospital for evaluation and he made a hostile move toward a patrolman.

    With reports from Kate Bramson, Amanda Milkovits and Tom Mooney.


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