RI deputy sheriff on leave after alleged road rage incident is caught on camera

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police are investigating a case of alleged road rage involving a deputy sheriff who was caught on camera screaming at another driver who claims he blocked her on an off-ramp and then followed her.

State Police Captain Tim Sanzi said he could not release the deputy’s name.

“We’re conducting a thorough investigation,” Sanzi said. “We’re not sure where that’s going to take us at this point.”

A video recorded by an acquaintance of the other driver, who asked to not be identified, shows the unidentified officer showing his badge as he yells, “I’m a sheriff.” The other driver said she did not think he was an actual officer.

“I was scared,” she said. “It was like he was holding me captive.”

She said even if he was a sheriff, she didn’t think he had the jurisdiction to pull her over.

The confrontation happened about two weeks ago as she was exiting Route 146 onto Branch Avenue in Providence. She said the deputy pulled in front of her, stopping her from getting off the exit and holding up traffic.

“I rolled my window down to talk to him, to find out why he was doing that, and then he reached into my car,” she said. “The car behind me backed up and I was able to go around the guy.”

But she said the officer followed her into a nearby parking lot, where the camera began recording the angry back and forth.

“Are you crazy?” the woman asked.  “I don’t know who you are. You’re scaring me.”

The deputy told the man holding the phone camera why he was angry.

“I was in front of her,” he said. “She just hit me with her car.”

The woman said she did not hit his car and that Providence police came to the scene, but the officer did not file an incident report.

She also said she brought the video to the state police barracks in Lincoln but a trooper told her the complaint should be filed with Providence police. She said Providence police told her it was a civil matter.

“Nobody seemed to care,” she recalled. “I didn’t know who this guy was or if he was dangerous. He could’ve been a fake police officer. I didn’t do anything to make him that angry.”

The video shows the deputy walking toward her as she tried to walk away, telling her she couldn’t leave because police were coming.

“If I had my cuffs right now,” he said on the video. “I’d put them on you.”

When she insisted he was “not a cop,” he responded angrily.

“I’m going to show you,” he said, pointing to the camera and referring to his badge. “If you’d just shut your mouth and pay attention.”

State police began investigating the incident a short time after Target 12 forwarded the video to High Sheriff David DeCesare.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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