Head trauma cited as cause of death in John Gardiner manslaughter case

Head trauma cited as cause of death in John Gardiner manslaughter case

Record-Journal
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Midway Pizza is planning an upcoming fundraiser to assist the family of John Gardiner, shown here. | Courtesy Midway Pizza Facebook page

WESTERLY — A 49-year-old man who died from injuries following a late July confrontation at Main Street Plaza suffered from multiple blunt force traumas to the head, which ultimately caused his death, a Rhode Island autopsy report states.

Westerly resident John Gardiner, who suffered serious injuries in what is described as a physical exchange with 23-year-old Alexander Brown of Ashaway during the early morning hours of July 30 and was later pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital, was killed as a direct result of “multiple trauma to the head,” according to Rhode Island Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken. He said in Rhode Island, the term multiple only indicates that there are at least two points of trauma.

“The autopsy determined clearly that the trauma to the head was the cause of death,” Wendelken said.

Westerly Police Lt. Michael Carreiro said Brown and Gardiner were involved in a physical confrontation in the Main Street Plaza parking lot, 125 Main St., but the two did not know each other prior to the incident. No weapons were used, he confirmed, and the exchange “only took a few moments.”

Since that time, multiple police sources have confirmed that a private surveillance video, owned by an unnamed business owner and obtained by investigators, showed a quick and direct exchange between the two as they stood between two parked cars around 2:15 a.m.

According to the police sources, the video shows that Gardiner brushed Brown and began walking away when Brown turned and struck Gardiner, who immediately fell. The entire exchange took less than 15 seconds, based on the video.

The video is considered evidence, police said, and cannot be released while the investigation or court proceedings are still active.

A court summary filed by police on July 31 indicated only that officers arrested Brown following the incident based on probable cause determined during the early stages of the investigation. As of today, police had not filed a supplemental summary providing details of the investigation with Fourth Division District Court, according to a review of court records.

Brown, who was charged with manslaughter and disorderly conduct following the incident, was arraigned in Fourth Division District Court on July 31. He did not enter a plea at that time.

The case has been referred to Rhode Island Superior Court for a felony screening. Brown is due back in court on Oct. 27, court records indicated.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com


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