PAWTUCKET â€” The damage consisted of a coin-sized hole in the bumper of an Audi, but the legal fallout from an accident between Jarred Lynch, the son of a prominent political family, and an off-duty Pawtucket Police sergeant returning from a nightclub detail, has turned into something much bigger.
On Wednesday, lengthy testimony was given in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal before Magistrate Domenic A. DiSandro III on the civil charges filed against Lynch by the Pawtucket Police Department of refusing to submit to a chemical test and a laned roadway violation. With more testimony to be heard, the case will continue today.
The case involving Lynch, the son of attorney and former Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch, and Pawtucket Police Sgt. Yuri Wozny, has followed an unusual path since the early morning of Oct. 13, 2011, when Woznyâ€™s Hummer rear-ended Lynchâ€™s Audi on Main Street just before the intersection with Roosevelt Avenue. While it was Wozny who struck Lynch, the 25-year-old Lynch wound up getting arrested by Pawtucket Police on charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving, refusal to submit to a chemical test, and a laned roadway violation.
Yet, a special prosecutor hired by the city had the case dismissed in January in both District Court and at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, much to the stated surprise and anger of the Pawtucket Police. Following that, Lynchâ€™s lawyer, John Harwood, asked that the criminal charges of DUI and reckless driving against his client be expunged in District Court and that his record be sealed. In February, Pawtucket Police recharged Lynch in the Traffic Tribunal on the refusal and roadway violations, and in March, the chief magistrate ruled that the charges could go forward.
On Wednesday, testimony was heard from Sgt. Yuri Wozny about his involvement in the accident, and Pawtucket Police officer Justin Gould, who had responded to the scene and ended up determining that Lynch should be arrested for drunk driving.
Also pertinent to the case is an internal affairs complaint against the Pawtucket Police that was filed in late October by Lynch, through legal representation by his aunt, attorney and former Pawtucket City Solicitor Margaret Lynch-Gadaleta. Lt. Cory Jackson, the Pawtucket Police Departmentâ€™s Internal Affairs officer, was questioned about various aspects of the complaint.
Under questioning from Special District Attorney Stephen Regine, Wozny, a member of the police force for 13 years, gave his account of how the accident occurred, which differs greatly from Lynchâ€™s version of the events. He maintained that Lynch had been driving erratically on the East Avenue Extension, and the two had been stopped side by side at a red light at Main Street. When the light turned green, he said Lynch accelerated and swerved in front of him, then jammed on his brakes. Wozny said he was unable to stop, and he struck Lynch from behind.
Wozny also denied that he had used a vulgarities to threaten Lynch, as Lynch had maintained.
Gould testified that when he arrived at the scene, both Wozny and Lynch seemed calm. He said Lynch gave a different account of what had taken place, denying that he was driving erratically and saying that he was preparing to stop at the upcoming red light when he was rear-ended by Wozny.
Yet, Gould said that based on his observations of Lynch, he determined him to be intoxicated and requested that he perform three Field Sobriety Tests. He maintained that Lynch failed the tests and placed him under arrest. He further said that when Lynch was brought to the station, he was asked to submit to a chemical test, to which he replied, â€śAbsolutely not.â€ť He also said that Lynch was requested to sign a refusal form, which he did, and was then allowed a confidential phone call, which he made.
At several points in the testimony, Harwood argued that both Wozny and Gould were referring at times to police report documents that he said should have been destroyed under the motion to seal the District Court case and expunge the record. He also raised questions about handwritten diagrams drawn by Wozny and Gould that purported to show the location of the vehicles when the accident occurred, and maintained that Lynchâ€™s account put the collision closer to the traffic signal at Main Street.
Harwood also noted that Pawtucket Police had submitted just one photo of the accident scene into evidence, which showed Woznyâ€™s vehicle partly into the oncoming lane, and argued that it was unusual to not have more photos taken by police from an accident.