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R.I. State Police justified in fatal shooting of Portsmouth man during attempted arrest, grand jury finds

PROVIDENCE — A Providence County grand jury determined Friday that law enforcement officers were justified in shooting and killing a man in April 2022, after he drove into them as they tried to arrest him.

The state violent fugitive task force had an arrest warrant for 58-year-old Russell Dufault of Portsmouth, who was accused of pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend’s sister, assaulting her, and holding her against her will. She also told state police that Dufault had demanded $80,000 that he said had been stolen from him.

Dufault, who had a lengthy record that included armed robbery, was wanted for felony assault and kidnapping. When members of the task force saw him sitting in a car in Woonsocket later that day, they tried to arrest him, according to police.


However, Dufault drove into two of the officers, throwing one onto the hood of his car, and pinning the other against a state police cruiser, then-state police superintendent Colonel James Manni said at the time. The officers opened fire and killed Dufault.

It was the first fatal shooting by state police in five years.

The shooting was investigated by the state police and the attorney general’s office, as is protocol for police shootings in Rhode Island.

After reviewing the investigation, the grand jury determined on Friday that the actions of the task force, including state police detectives Theodore Gibbons and Greg Demarco and a deputy US Marshal, were lawful and legally justified. The marshal was not identified.

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at Follow her @AmandaMilkovits.