Made to stop at crash scene, driver accused of punching, biting officer

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WESTPORT — Perturbed that he had to wait while an accident was cleared, a Westport man is accused of punching and then biting an officer who told him to get back into his car.

The officer, Westport Sergeant Chris Mello suffered a blow to the head and bite puncture to the hand. His alleged assailant, Jeremy Rioux, 21, of 17 President St., Westport was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

Detective Jeff Majewski said the trouble began at around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17 as several officers were directing traffic on Route 88 southbound near the intersection of Briggs Road due to a motor vehicle crash. The road was temporarily closed while tow trucks were removing the damaged vehicle.

“One stopped motorist exited his vehicle and approached one of the police officers on foot.” That driver, Mr. Rioux, “became irate that he could not pass through the area,” Det. Majewski said.

Officer Nick Frustaci instructed him to return to his vehicle when, police said, Mr. Rioux “yelled profanities and displayed a fighting position against the officer.”

A second officer, Sgt. Mello, “approached and attempted to de-escalate Mr. Rioux’s behavior and demanded that he immediately get back in his vehicle and off the road, the detective said. “Mr. Rioux then punched Sgt. Mello with his closed fist and struck him on the side of his face and jaw.”

Police said that the officers grabbed the man and restrained him as he continued fighting.

Two other officers assisted in handcuffing tMr. Rioux who “resorted to biting Sgt. Mello on his hand which punctured the skin and caused a laceration.” He was eventually restrained and taken to the ground where he was handcuffed.

Det. Majewski add that, during the booking process at the police station, Mr. Rioux said, “s… happens”.

Officer Mellowas treated at a nearby hospital and released.

“Route 88 is mostly an un-lit highway with traffic that may reach high speeds,” Det. Majewski said. “Mr. Rioux made a potentially dangerous situation worse by exiting his car. Officers diverted their attention away from scene safety to deal with his behavior which ultimately placed others in harms way.”

Mr. Rioux was arraigned Thursday at the Fall River Justice Center.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.