Resident seeks support from Burrillville council in suit filed against police officer/neighbor

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BURRILLVILLE – A man who filed a lawsuit against the town, the police department and several individuals over his 2015 arrest recently brought the issue to the Burrillville Town Council, asking members to hold police accountable for what he says were false charges.

Councilors, however, were advised by Solicitor William Dimitri not to speak on the issue due to the ongoing litigation.

Harrisville resident Jacek Wilinkiewicz is represented by Providence-based Attorney Robert Caron in the Superior Court suit, filed in 2019. The suit names Burrillville Police Patrolwoman Kathleen Kelley, Det. Robert Veader and Inspector Michael Bouchard among others in a conflict dating back to an incident that took place in November of 2015, when Wilinkiewicz was reportedly returning to his home on Carol Drive.

According to a complaint filed by his attorney, Wilinkiewicz was driving around 15-miles-per-hour when he passed Kelley, who was blowing leaves on the side of the road at the time. The court document states that he looked in his rearview mirror to see Kelley giving him the middle finger, and that the off-duty officer then asked another neighbor to call the police. Kelley told Veader, the responding officer, that Wilinkiewicz was driving on the wrong side of the road and nearly hit her.

Wilinkiewicz was arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of six years incarceration.

According to the suit, Veader relied solely on statements provided by Kelley and the neighbor, who Wilinkiewicz says did not witness the incident, during his investigation. The attorney states that Wilinkiewicz told Veader he had kept a distance of five to ten feet from Kelley when passing, and that a camera positioned outside his home would verify his story, but no one attempted to view the video.

Information provided by police in the case also made no reference to the video, “which would have exonerated Mr. Wilinkiewicz had they chosen to view it,” the complaint notes.

Wilinkiewicz was found not guilty in a jury trial in 2017.

The suit that followed lists five counts against the town and members of the department including false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, failure to train and supervise, defamation, and intentional affliction of emotional distress. It states that Wilinkiewicz suffered mental anguish as a result of the arrest.

Represented by Attorney Marc DeSisto, the town and the department have denied all charges, citing statutory immunity and the public duty doctrine, as well as the statute of limitations on the defamation claim.

At a Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 28, Wilinkiewicz stated his side of the case before the board, saying it was not the only incident involving Kelley.

“They have made me a criminal with their lies,” Wilinkiewicz said. “Why would I start a criminal career in my late 50s with a young family, a mortgage and a job? It just doesn’t make sense”

“They took none of my concerns into action,” he said. “My family has suffered physical, emotional and financial hardship.”

Dimitri noted that Wilinkiewicz had the right to be placed on the council agenda and to be heard, but advised members to refrain from comment.

Col. Stephen Lynch noted he is also unable to comment on the matter due to the pending litigation. NRI NOW has requested a copy of all arrest reports related to the plaintiff.

The Superior Court case remains unassigned and has seen no action since the town’s response was filed in January of 2019.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for your recognizing my comments to the town council. Please contact me if you need a copy of the cort transcripts.

    Jacek Wilinkiewicz

  2. This appears to be a troubling case where someone might have abused their authority for personal reasons. It’s unfortunate that the accused had to endure the financial and emotional toll of fighting exaggerated charges, only to be vindicated in court. It’s disheartening that the officer can potentially avoid accountability by hiding behind legal protections like statutory immunity and the public duty doctrine. If the accused didn’t commit the severe offenses they were accused of, it raises questions about the validity of invoking these defenses. It’s concerning that the town and police are standing behind such actions.

  3. Good luck to the Plaintiff. Hope he gets a bag of cash. Time for Officer Friendly to retire just like Defective Bouchard did. As for the other, he has since been promoted and is no longer a Detective. Thank god because he couldnt investigate his way out of a paper bag. Just like the story clearly points out.

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