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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The four Warwick officers who reportedly shot a man several times after he lunged at them with a knife inside the lobby of the city’s police department last year have been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha determined late last month that the officers were “legally justified” in their use of force against Jacob Thomas back in January 2022.
The officers shot Thomas numerous times after he charged at them with a knife as they were walking into the main lobby. Thomas reportedly stabbed one of the officers in the chest, however, she wasn’t injured because she was wearing a protective vest.
Prior to the attack, the officers stated Thomas, “…was looking around, talking to himself and ‘moving his fingers’ as you would ‘before you got ready to fight someone,’” according to an investigative report obtained by 12 News.
The report states Thomas kept yelling “Kill me” and repeatedly ignored the officers’ commands to drop the knife.
Despite being shot, Thomas charged the officers a second time.
“Surveillance video shows him bobbing up and down like a boxer,” the report states.
The officers opened fire on Thomas again in an attempt to stop the attack. The second round of gunfire forced Thomas to the ground, according to the report, though he still had a firm grasp on the knife.
The officers immediately began tending to Thomas’ wounds after deploying a Taser, which caused him to drop the knife.
“The entire incident, from the first display of the knife to the deployment of the Taser, lasted approximately one minute,” the report continues.
It’s unclear exactly how many times the officers shot Thomas, though the report states he survived his injuries following emergency surgery.
“It is miraculous that no one was killed as a result of this incredibly dangerous situation,” the report states, adding that bullets narrowly missed the receptionist as officers tried to quell Thomas.
Neronha determined that the officers’ use of force against Thomas was “objectively reasonable.”
“Thomas’ actions clearly demonstrate he was intent on ambushing police in an effort to get them to react with deadly force,” the report concludes. “Thomas armed himself and arrived at the station at shift change when he knew there would be many officers present.”
Thomas has been charged with felony assault, and court records indicate he has been out on bond since August. He is due back in court for a pre-trial hearing on June 15.
12 News reached out to Thomas’ attorney but has not yet heard back.
John Calcagni III, Thomas’ attorney, tells 12 News his client has “well-documented” mental health issues that are being adequately addressed.
“I am grateful that my client and all officers involved survived this horrific event,” he said in a statement. “Thankfully, Jacob is doing great in all aspects of his life to include physical and mental health, education, at home and socially.”
Calcagni said he is seeking a not guilty by reason of insanity defense on Thomas’ behalf.
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