WARWICK, R.I. — Officer Timothy Tavares was called to Airport Road June 11 at 10:30 p.m. for several reports of an intoxicated driver in a black Dodge Charger, caught up with and pulled over the SUV, with a flat front left tire, and arrested the man on a DUI charge.
As Tavares caught up to the Charger and pulled it over, he noticed it was running on its front drivers side rim, its tire flattened. The SUV pulled over in the parking lot of KFC at 850 Airport Road, according to the officer’s report.
Tavares identified the driver as Bernard Copponi, 39, of 66 Valente Dr., and asked him if he’d been aware he was driving on a flat tire. Copponi replied that he was aware, and that was the reason he had pulled over. As they spoke, Tavares said he noted an odor of alcohol on the man’s breath. He also noticed the man’s speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and his face was flushed.
When asked where he was coming from, Copponi replied that he was coming from Providence, then, when Tavares advised him he was in Warwick, he said he had actually been heading toward Providence.
A series of sobriety tests did not go well for Copponi, who exhibited a lack of smooth pursuit and involuntary eye movements in his vision, could not walk a straight line, and could not balance safely on one foot. Tavares arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, and transported him to Warwick Police Headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive, where he refused to submit to a blood alcohol breath test.
A search of Copponi’s SUV revealed two large knives in the drivers side door compartment. The SUV was towed by City Towing.
Copponi threatened Tavares and other officers processing him throughout his arrest, remarking he would find and hurt them at a later time, according to the officer’s report. Copponi also urinated on the bed and walls of his cell, although there was a working toilet in the cell, according to the report.
Tavares charged Copponi with DUI, blood alcohol unknown, and for illegal possession of weapons other than firearms. The officer also cited him for refusing a chemical test.
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