WESTERLY — A stolen car crashed at the Taylor Swift property in Watch Hill early Tuesday after a police pursuit, and the driver and two of his passengers were taken for treatment to Providence-area hospitals, the police said.
The driver, Shykeim Edwin Lewis, 19, of Hartford, was charged through the Westerly Police Department Tuesday with reckless driving by engaging police in high-speed pursuit; obstructing an officer; felony receiving stolen goods; and driving when license is suspended or denied. He was arraigned Tuesday in Fourth Division District Court, according to online Rhode Island judicial records. It was not immediately clear whether he was offered or had posted bond.
"We only have enough evidence to charge the driver," said Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey. "Officers had accompanied all those taken to the hospital, as we were unaware of who the driver was at the time, but the officers were released from that assignment once we identified Mr. Lewis as the driver."
Westerly and Hopkinton police said the investigation is ongoing.
Three ambulances — two from Westerly and one from Charlestown — transported Lewis and two back-seat passengers, 18-year-old Kajae Correa and a 16-year-old boy, after the crash. A third passenger, Taquan Nealey, 18, of Hartford, initially fled the scene but was later located. He was not injured, Lacey said.
According to Westerly and Hopkinton police reports, the chase began on Main Street, Route 3, in Hopkinton near Maxson Street at about 1 a.m. Tuesday after the car quickly pulled up behind Patrolman Albert Gaccione as he was southbound in a police cruiser. Gaccione saw that the car abruptly slowed and stopped in the middle of the roadway near the Ashaway Post Office.
Gaccione reversed direction at Old Hopkinton Cemetery Lane and pulled behind the car, which had no license plates, the report said. The officer tried make a stop near Town and Country Auto Sales, but the car continued south until Red Stone Tire in Westerly. When Gaccione got out of his cruiser and approached, the driver took off at high speed, the police said.
Gaccione followed the car and notified area dispatchers, and remained with the car as it traveled through downtown Westerly, heading down Elm Street and onto Beach Street at about 65 mph.
A Westerly police cruiser was waiting with its emergency lights flashing at the intersection of Watch Hill Road and Winnapaug Road, but the car continued south into Watch Hill. Gaccione pulled off to the side of the road and Westerly officers took the lead, staying in pursuit as the car sped onto Bay Street. Lacey said that Gaccione turned onto Westerly Road and later Bluff Avenue to get ahead of the car.
As the Hopkinton officer approached a sharp turn near 16 Bluff Ave., the Swift home, he nearly collided with the suspect's car, the police said. The stolen car then drove straight, striking the white wall outside the property and then ricocheting into the main entrance gate. The police estimated that the car was going about 35 mph.
At that point, Lacey said, Lewis and Nealey jumped out of the car and tried to flee. The reported indicated that Lewis jumped a fence and into bushes where he was apprehended by Gaccione. Officers lost sight of Nealey.
"We called for a Stonington police K-9 that was on duty, but the search did not provide any leads," Lacey said.
The other passengers suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries, officials said. They remained in the back of the car until further backup arrived, and both were handcuffed, along with Lewis. Lacey said it was determined that the car had been stolen from the Hartford area.
Westerly Ambulance and Charlestown Ambulance Rescue Service personnel, assisted by firefighters from the Watch Hill Fire Department, arrived at the scene. Lewis and Correa were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and the juvenile was taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital.
Lacey said that as the search continued for Nealey, a Westerly officer was stationed at the Watch Hill Fire Department as a precaution. Around 4:15 a.m., the chief said, an officer saw a black BMW with Connecticut plates driving into Watch Hill. Officers pulled over the car as it was returning north several minutes later, traveling 45 mph in a 25 mph zone.
The car was driven by Alvin Nealey, Taquan's brother. According to a police report, Taquan Nealey was in the passenger seat, sweating profusely with briars, leaves and other debris stuck to him. After questioning the two, the police said Nealey admitted being involved and provided a written statement. As a result, Lacey said, he was not charged, and his brother was given a warning for speeding.
Hopkinton Police Capt. Mark Carrier said that Lewis would also be charged with reckless driving and several motor vehicle infractions in Hopkinton.
WESTERLY — Several people are in police custody after a police chase that began in Hopkinton when an officer came upon a car stolen from the Hartford area and ended with that car, which was carrying three adults and a juvenile, crashing into the front gate of Taylor Swift’s property on Bluff Avenue in Watch Hill.
The chase began on Main Street in Hopkinton near Maxson Street around 1 a.m. Tuesday after a car pulled up behind Patrolman Albert Gaccione as he was traveling south in a police cruiser. According to a Hopkinton incident report, Gaccione saw the car come behind his cruiser quickly before abruptly slowing and stopping in the middle of the roadway near the Ashaway Post Office.
Gaccione reversed direction at Old Hopkinton Cemetery Lane and came upon the car, which was once again traveling south. According to the report, Gaccione was able to move behind the car and immediately noticed several motor vehicle infractions, including the driver crossing the center median. The car also did not have license plates, the police said.
The officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop near Town and Country Auto Sales, but the car continued south before finally pulling over in front of Red Stone Tire in Westerly. Gaccione exited his cruiser and attempted to approach the car, but the driver shifted the car back into gear and took off.
According to the Hopkinton police report, Gaccione was able to return to his cruiser and begin following, notifying dispatch that the suspect had engaged a pursuit and informing Westerly police of the car’s direction of travel. He remained with the car as it traveled through the downtown area and onto Beach Street, where a Westerly officer was able to join the pursuit. The car had committed multiple traffic violations and was well above the speed limit, the report said.
A Westerly police cruiser was waiting with its emergency lights flashing at the intersection of Watch Hill Road and Winnapaug Road, but the stolen car continued south and into Watch Hill. According to the Hopkinton report, Gaccione pulled off to the side of the road at this point to allow Westerly police to take lead.
The car continued into Watch Hill and led officers on a high-speed chase onto Bay Street, with officers right behind. Gaccione, meanwhile, turned onto Bluff Avenue in an attempt to cut off the car if it continued around the corner.
According to the Hopkinton report, the car continued until it reached Gaccione and swerved to avoid a collision, crashing into the gates at Taylor Swift’s mansion and heavily damaging both the gates and the car.
One of the suspects, an adult male, attempted to flee by jumping over the fence and into the bushes on Swift’s property. Gaccione was able to pursue the suspect on foot, drawing his weapon and ordering him to the ground before placing him in handcuffs. A second adult and juvenile in the car were also placed in custody.
Hopkinton police indicated that the two adults were later taken by ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment of injuries, while the juvenile was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital. A third adult in the car had fled, but was later located waiting for a ride a short distance away, the police said. None of those involved have been identified as of noon
The driver will face a charge of reckless driving, as well as several motor vehicle infractions in Hopkinton, Police Capt. Mark Carrier confirmed. He is also expected to face criminal charges related to both the chase and possession of a stolen vehicle in Westerly, officials confirmed.
Carrier said his agency is also investigating after the chase led police to find evidence that the group may have been involved in recent car thefts in the region. He said that investigation is still “very active” and no charges have been filed.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said officers were still sorting out the details and charges as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. He said further information would be released later today.