PAWTUCKET — Everyone agrees that on the night of Oct. 13, 2011, a Hummer driven by Pawtucket Police Sgt. Yuri Wozny rear-ended an Audi operated by Jarred Lynch near the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue. But the series of events after that, which led to Lynch being arrested and charged with refusing to submit to a chemical test for alcohol, remain a matter of “he said/he said” which a judge will now have to decide.
A second day of testimony concluded on Thursday at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, where the 25-year-old Lynch, the son of attorney and former state Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch, has been charged with the refusal and a roadway violation stemming from the accident. Magistrate Domenic A. DiSandro III announced he would make a decision on the case on April 25.
On Thursday, both Jarred Lynch and his father gave testimony in a case that has been described as “torturous” by Lynch’s attorney, John Harwood, while Pawtucket Police officials from the chief on down have maintained has been one of questionable treatment.
In his testimony, Jarred Lynch stated several times that immediately following the accident, Wozny had exited his vehicle and come at him in a menacing way, shining a flashlight in his face. He said Wozny had repeatedly threatened to “knock him the (expletive) out” and said he kept talking about how the accident would make his insurance rates go up. This was in direct contrast to Wozny’s account on Wednesday, in which the officer said he was upset about the accident but had never threatened Lynch.
Lynch also said that, right after performing the Field Sobriety Tests, which he thought he had “done fine,” the responding officer, Justin Gould, conferred with Wozny, and then came back and told him he was being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Lynch said he asked Gould what part of the tests he had failed and said the officer replied that he would tell him at the station.
Much of Thursday’s testimony focused on whether Lynch had been properly allowed to consult a lawyer before deciding whether or not to take the chemical test. On Wednesday, Gould maintained that Lynch had been notified about his rights at the scene and at the station, Lynch hadn’t said anything about wanting to call a lawyer.
Jarred Lynch testified that Gould had him read along on a “Rights to Refusal” form and said he did hear the part about his right to an attorney. He said that Gould then asked him if he was going to take the chemical test or not and he said he replied that he wanted to call his father. He said that Gould had told him, “As soon as you sign the paper, I will give you your phone call. He said that as he was “anxious to talk to his father,” he signed the paper.
Lynch said that when he did reach his father, he told him he was “not going to believe what happened” and relayed the series of events and Wozny’s behavior. He said his father told him he would come right away to the station. He added that he hadn’t been allowed to see his father until he was released, about two and a half hours later.
Jarred Lynch maintained that Wozny was driving aggressively and tailgating him as the two traveled down East Avenue toward Main Street. However, he admitted that a statement that was given in the internal affairs complaint about Wozny “flashing his lights and trying to pass him was incorrect.
Under intense questioning from Attorney Stephen Regine of the attorney general’s office, Lynch also steadfastly maintained that the accident occurred as he was starting to turn onto Roosevelt Avenue from Main Street and not further away from the intersection as Wozny and Gould had described. He also said he had never swerved into Wozny’s Hummer or jammed on his brakes as Wozny has alleged and had instead been driving cautiously and using his turn signals.
Lastly, William J. Lynch gave his version of the events that night, in which he maintained that he was prevented by Pawtucket Police from seeing his son for over an hour and a half, despite having arrived about 15 minutes after Jarred had called him.
Lynch said that Jarred had not told him in the phone conversation about having had two beers at The Met, but that if he had, he would have advised him to take the Breathylzer. He said he had advised his son not to say anything or sign anything, but that he didn’t know what had transpired at the station or that Jarred had signed the refusal form.
In his closing argument, Harwood noted that Wozny had been returning to the police station to make out an arrest report on a different incident, and maintained that he had likely been in a rush when he struck Lynch. “And then the games begin,” he stated. He said that many elements of the events leading to the accident and subsequent treatment of Lynch “defied common sense” and suggested it was a matter of “a cop covering up for another cop.” Noting that DUI charges had been previously dismissed in District Court and records sealed and destroyed, he added that “The whole case stinks.”
On the state’s side, attorney John Perrotta of the attorney general’s office noted that the statements from all of the Pawtucket Police officers who testified were consistent. He said that given the testimony, the police had clear reasons to arrest Lynch on suspicion of drunk driving that night and evidence of his refusal, as well as credible evidence that he committed a laned roadway violation.
Perrotta said that to believe Lynch’s version of the events, it would mean that six police officers “were involved in a massive cover-up of a minor traffic accident.”