According to a Johnston Police report, an off-duty Warwick officer helped them catch a car-jacker on Feb. 20. Patrolman Michael Protano reported he was on Atwood Avenue just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 20 when dispatch called out a hit-and-run accident near 743 Hartford Ave. and that the driver was fleeing the scene on foot. Dispatch said also said an off-duty Warwick police officer called it in and reported that the driver jumped into his car in an attempt to car-jack it when the vehicle stopped to render aid if needed but changed his mind when he was told the owner was a Warwick cop. The officer, identified as Javier Cabreja, said the suspect was running south on Killingly Street with Cabreja following him in his car with the hazard lights on. He said another Johnston patrolman stopped and got out of his car to confront him and the suspect stopped, turned around and started running in the direction of Protano.
He said all three Johnston cops and Cabreja were out of their cars chasing him on foot, telling him to stop but he would not. He said he finally turned around with his hand in his jacket pocket and said, “Stop! Stop! I have a [expletive] gun…I’ll shoot you!” as he backed away. Three of the patrolmen pulled their service weapons and yelled at him to take his hands out of his pockets and he did, but he continued to run until Patrolman Michael Cardoza took him to the ground. He said the suspect continued to resist and struggle until Patrolman Cardoza yelled, “He’s grabbing my gun,” and he was soon in handcuff. Protano said they later learned that the car he was driving was car-jacked earlier, before the hit-and-run. Shawn T. Brailsford, 19, of 33 Rowley St. in Providence was charged with felony car-jacking, larceny, leaving the scene of and accident, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Deputy Chief Daniel Parrillo praised his patrolmen for the restraint they showed while affecting their arrest. He said they subsequently found out that Brailsford had no record or contact with police before this incident.
“It was kind of baffling,” he said. “We found out he had no record or history of doing this sort of thing. When he told police he had a gun in his pocket, that really took it to the next level. Fortunately, he took his hands out of his pocket. My guys showed restraint. This could have been a very tragic situation.”
Parrillo credited Officer Javier Cabreja with making the arrest possible.
“If he didn’t follow him and give us updates, he could have got away and who knows how that would have played out.”