WESTERLY — Two Westerly officers suffered "scrapes and bruises" in a fight with a man who punched one of the officers, starting a brawl after the police responded to a domestic complaint on Monday night.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said Officers Brian Bruno and Timothy Cieciorka were taken to the hospital and were released after evaluation and treatment. "They took some hits, but these guys should be commended for their response," Lacey said. "The situation could have been much worse, and these guys put themselves in harm's way when the suspect's behavior was grounds for them to use their guns."
The suspect, Brent W. McNutt, 47, 27 Meadowview Terrace, was charged with two counts of assault of a police officer, simple assault or battery, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, domestic simple assault or battery, domestic disorderly conduct and domestic refusal to relinquish a telephone for an emergency call.
McNutt was held overnight and arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Fourth Division District Court. According to court records, he was being held at the Adult Correctional Institutions under a $25,000 surety bond. He did not enter a plea and is due in Washington County Superior Court for a felony screening in February.
The two officers were called to McNutt's home at about 10 p.m. When they arrived, an 18-year-old woman said she could hear McNutt and her mother fighting and her mother crying, but when she tried to enter their bedroom, he shoved her out and locked the door.
According to the police report, the officers found McNutt and the woman in the bedroom, with McNutt lying on top of her. The police said he whispered something in her ear, then got up and agreed to go with an officer to the living room.
While speaking with the woman, who was struggling to breathe, the other police officer said she lifted her shirt, revealing considerable bruising. She told him she believed that McNutt had broken her ribs. The officer in the bedroom then returned to the living room, where McNutt and the first officer were waiting.
"The officers were in the living room to ask him what happened. He remained quiet and when (Bruno) stated that the victim believes she has broken ribs, Brent (McNutt) struck (Cieciorka) suddenly, punching him in the face," Lacey said. The punch was unexpected, the police said.
Lacey said the officers then tried to arrest McNutt, who was described as 6 feet, 3 inches and weighing about 230 pounds. He fought back, the police said, overpowering the officers and making his way to the kitchen, where he tried to grab several knives. The officers prevented him from doing so, but the fight went back into the living room area and all three men fell down a set of stairs leading to the front door.
The police said the officers then deployed a stun gun, but McNutt simply grunted, pulled out the prongs and left through the front door.
The struggle continued in the front yard, and the police used two more stun gun cartridges, to virtually no effect. McNutt then ran to a neighbor's yard, and Lacey said the officers used their fourth stun gun cartridge. Again, McNutt pulled the prongs out, so Bruno used pepper spray to try and subdue him, the police said.
"Officers have just two cartridges each, so by that point they were out," Lacey explained. "At that point, Brent overpowered the officers again and removed all his clothes before running into the center of the road."
The police said McNutt sprinted up the street, turned and saw the officers who were chasing them, and then turned around and tackled Cieciorka, wrapping his hand around the officer's neck, who briefly blacked out. Bruno interceded and continued to struggle with McNutt.
Lacey said both men had called for "backup to hurry" and another officer arrived on the scene. The third officer deployed another stun gun cartridge, this time causing McNutt to pause, and the three officers succeeded in getting handcuffs on one of his hands before McNutt again overpowered them.
Two more officers arrived and Lacey said the five were then able to subdue McNutt and take him into custody.
Lacey praised the efforts of the officers, noting that their decision to wrestle with McNutt went above and beyond the call of duty and may have saved the man's life.
"When you look at the circumstances, these guys were at the point of exhaustion and their lives were legitimately in danger. They would have been justified in pulling their firearms and shooting," Lacey said. "Instead, they did everything they could to avoid that and it may have saved a life."