PAWTUCKET — Angry about the Pawtucket Police Department's public comments concerning the dismissal of drunken driving charges involving his son, attorney William Lynch is vowing to fight back and maintains that the true story has not been told.
As reported in The Times last Wednesday, Pawtucket Police are questioning the way a case was handled by a special prosecutor for the city that resulted in the dismissal of charges against 24-year-old Jarred Lynch.
He had been charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving and refusal to submit to a chemical test for alcohol on Oct. 13 after he was rear-ended by a Pawtucket Police officer returning from a nightclub detail.
On Jan. 25, the charges were all dismissed, based on the recommendations of attorney Michael J. Feeney, who had been hired by City Solicitor Frank J. Milos to prosecute the case. Milos said he had wanted to use an outside attorney to avoid any appearance of conflict due to his having worked under former City Solicitor Margaret Lynch-Gadaleta for many years. Lynch-Gadaleta is Jarred Lynch's aunt and William Lynch's sister.
Pawtucket Police Chief Paul King said last week that police were surprised to learn that the charges had been dismissed and that he does not agree with the reasons for the dismissals given by Feeney. He said he is currently exploring whether any of the charges against Jarred Lynch can be re-instated and expects a decision to be made this week.
William Lynch, on the other hand, said he believes the police officers' accounts of the case involving his son are untrue and also objects to the way the arrest procedure was handled. He told The Times that he is contemplating legal action against the police officer involved in the accident, Sgt. Yuri Wozny, and possibly other members of the Pawtucket Police Department. He said an internal affairs complaint has also been made against Wozny and other officers involved in the incident.
Jarred Lynch's account of the accident differs substantially from that of Wozny's. He maintained that he had been driving cautiously and using his turn signals while coming home from The Met because he had noticed a sport utility vehicle (driven by Wozny) “driving aggressively and tailgating” him near the downtown area of Main Street. Lynch stated that when he put on a left directional and had braked for a left turn onto Roosevelt Avenue from Main Street, he was rear-ended by Wozny.
Jarred Lynch said Wozny did not initially identify himself as a police officer and advanced toward him “menacingly,” telling him to put his hands on the car. He said that Wozny told him several times that he should “knock him the (expletive) out” because his insurance rates would likely increase due to the collision.
Lynch, who said he admitted to having had a couple of beers at The Met earlier, also said that he readily submitted to a request by Officer Jason Gould to perform a Field Sobriety Test and believed that he had successfully performed all three tests that had been administered. He said that despite this, he was handcuffed and brought to the station, where his repeated questions about his performance on the Field Sobriety Tests were ignored.
Lynch said he was asked to take a chemical test for alcohol, which he refused, and was told to sign a paper stating his refusal. He maintained that it was only after he signed the refusal form that he was asked if he wanted to make a phone call. He said he did make a phone call to his father, who told him he would arrive within minutes at the station.
William Lynch told The Times that he objected to his own treatment at the station, saying he was made to wait over an hour and a half and that he was told he would have to be “strip searched” before he could enter the area to see his son.
William Lynch maintains that the dismissal of the charges were justified and said the police department's public objections are based more on the prominence of the Lynch family name than anything else. “It shouldn't be about a name,” he told The Times. Jarred Lynch is also the grandson of the late former Pawtucket Mayor Dennis Lynch and the nephew of former Attorney General Patrick Lynch.
Lynch also provided The Times with court documents which showed two lawsuits, one filed in 2002 and another in 2003, that had been brought in Superior Court by individuals against Sgt. Yuri Wozny, along with several other Pawtucket Police officers, alleging assaults. (As of press time, the outcomes of these cases could not be determined.)
Police Chief Paul King said he does not dispute that fact that Wozny, who had used his own vehicle on the nightclub detail, was responsible for the accident. He said, however, that he supports the accounts of Wozny, Gould and the other officers as to what took place that night.
King also said he believes that the arresting officer, Gould, was justified in his assessment to both request that Lynch perform the Field Sobriety Test and his decision to book him on suspicion of drunk driving. He also said that the refusal form signed by Lynch includes a sentence that states he had been offered the use of a telephone. In court documents, Feeney had based his request for dismissal on the refusal charge on the points that there was no basis for a Field Sobriety test and there had been a failure to provide a confidential phone call to Lynch prior to the request that he undergo a Breathlyzer.
In his narrative in the police report, Wozny reported that Lynch had been driving erratically on Main Street, at one point entering his lane of travel and forcing him to swerve to the left of the double yellow line to avoid a collision. He said that Lynch than swerved further to the left in front of him and then jammed on his brakes, coming to a complete stop about 150 feet short of the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue at which time the upcoming traffic light was green. Once the accident occurred, Wozny said that Lynch exited his vehicle first, appearing to be “enraged” and looking for a “physical confrontation.”
In the Field Sobriety testing, Gould stated that Lynch had been given the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (following a pen with the eyes) and that he (Gould) had “observed a lack of smooth pursuit, and jerkiness at maximum deviation in both eyes.” The officer also stated that on the Walk and Turn test, Lynch, wearing cowboy boots, “did not count out loud as instructed, maintain heel to toe and did not take a series of small steps to turn as instructed.” He had stated at the outset that Lynch had mentioned breaking his ankle a long time ago. At one point during the test, he complained of ankle pain, at which time the test was terminated, Gould stated.
In the third test, the One Legged Stand, Gould said that Lynch had stated that his left ankle was bothering him but he would use his right leg. During the test, Gould said that Lynch was “using his hands for balance and swaying back and forth.” The officer said that Lynch then complained that his boots were causing him to lose balance. At that point, Gould said he placed Lynch under arrest and read him his rights.
As to William Lynch's contention that police had fabricated the police reports to cover for Wozny's actions, King noted that about a half dozen police officers were involved at various points from when Lynch was brought to the station to when he was offered the chemical test and subsequent refusal. To do as Lynch suggests, King said, would have been tantamount to them all being “in cahoots” against Jarred Lynch, a scenario that he vigorously denies.
King added that he would rather have a matter such as this dealt with in a court of law where the involved participants are under oath, and a judge, magistrate, or jury can evaluate the truthfulness of those involved.
Several phone calls by The Times to attorney Michael J. Feeney to discuss his actions in the Jarred Lynch case were not returned.