University News

Student arrested following altercation at Jo’s

A sophomore was charged with assault after a confrontation with DPS

By
Science & Research Editor

Phillip Smith ’15 was arrested Dec. 16 at Josiah’s after a physical altercation with Department of Public Safety officers.

At a district court hearing Dec. 17, Smith was released on $5,000 personal recognizance.

Smith was charged with assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald. Smith was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital for a nose injury and then transferred to the custody of Providence Police Sunday morning, she wrote.

Smith had reached into a container of french fries and then refused a Jo’s employee’s request that he leave, said Bryan Smith ’15, a Brown University Dining Services supervisor.

Smith was reportedly intoxicated, according to charges read at the Dec. 17 hearing.

The Department of Public Safety received a request for assistance at approximately 1:15 a.m., Quinn wrote.

When they arrived, DPS officers first asked Smith to calm down, Bryan Smith said.

When an officer grabbed Smith to escort him from Jo’s, Smith attempted to punch the officer, said Adam Green ’14, who witnessed the incident. Three officers then wrestled Smith to the floor, he said.

Additional police officers arrived on the scene, with about six or eight officers present at one point, Bryan Smith said. The police then cleared students from the restaurant area of the eatery and closed the doors.

Smith, whose face was bloodied, was taken out of Jo’s by police officers, Bryan Smith said. “He was yelling about his jacket on the ground,” he said. “Eventually they picked up his jacket and threw it away.”

Ben Heller ’13, who was sitting in the dining portion of the eatery, said he was upset by the way officers treated other students in the eatery immediately following the incident.

“When I approached the (restaurant side), the cops were basically being aggressive,” Heller said. “Cops were saying, ‘You’d better back off, or you’re going to be next.’”

Jo’s closed for the night shortly afterward.

Both Green and Bryan Smith said many witnesses were shaken by the incident.

“I don’t think the whole situation was approached appropriately,” Green said, adding that he believed Smith should not have attacked officers and had suspected he was intoxicated.

Smith declined to comment, and representatives from DPS did not respond to requests for comment.

  • Anonymous

    This information is incorrect. He reached out to mozzarella sticks, and he did not attempt to punch the officer.

  • Anonymous

    I know for a fact that people there had smartphones. Nobody thought to document police brutality so that we could have some kind of Actual record of what happened?

  • Anonymous

    This whole incident concerns me. Brown university clearly needs to rethink their mozzarella stick policy currently in place.

  • Anonymous

    Having seen what happened, I can say that he was clearly resisting the officers (and very belligerent), yet the officers were also being overly rough with him – both parties were in the wrong. The situation shouldn’t have been handled in the fashion it was.

  • Anonymous

    Oh a black man mistreated by law enforcement officials? I am truly shocked!

  • Anonymous

    There was no police brutality. DPS is on campus for a REASON: to keep Brown safe for all students, especially from those under the influence. And if being stern and frank is what it takes for other students to get the message that their inappropriate behavior has consequences too, then that is fine with me. Plus, anyone who was there saw that the student was wriggling around on the floor while DPS tried to keep him down, and just seeing that was pretty scary. But that’s definitely not brutality. At all. And bringing race into this is totally inappropriate.

  • Anonymous

    Jos cameras will reveal the truth

  • Anonymous

    In what world is there not going to be consequences if you stick your hand into food at a restaurant?

  • Mariana Carvalho

    Consequences is one thing. Being reduced to pulp, pepper sprayed, punched and choked is another.

  • Anonymous

    Mariana, your attitude is indicative of the general student attitude, where consequences should be equated to a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, stealing from a dining hall anywhere else but Brown would warrant arrest. Resisting arrest also has similar consequences. Those from New York that have ever dealt with a police officer can attest to that. The fact that this occurred at a student-created rave inside a dining hall with alcohol and belligerent underaged kids is indicative of the bubble that we live in, where Brown students can essentially DO whatever they want without any punishment from Providence Police. This case absolutely needs to be opened and evaluated, but Brown students should also consider their perceptions and privileges.

  • Anonymous

    To be black in white America.

  • Anonymous

    I think that the problem lies with the availability of mozzarella sticks at Jo’s. Would this have happened if mozzarella sticks weren’t served? This a great opportunity to research the broken face to mozzarella stick ratio at other comparable universities to see whether or not this is a Brown specific problem. In the mean time its probably a good idea to remove the remaining mozzarella sticks for Jo’s and other campus eateries.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really disappointed that nobody seems to be considering the mozzarella sticks’ feelings. Mozzarella sticks are quite emotional and once you get past their greasy, crisp exterior, they tend to get pretty mushy. Unlike the cops and the students, the mozzarella sticks did absolutely nothing wrong, yet they got dipped into this mess, and their name may be permanently smeared from it. While the student and cops will probably walk free, the mozzarella sticks will be the ones getting fried.

  • Anonymous

    DIVEST MOZZARELLA STICKS

  • Anonymous

    Phil Smith sucks. He probably tried to punch the officers and they were just defending themselves. He is belligerent when drunk and deserved the night in jail. I hope he learned a thing or two, mainly not to steal.

  • Anonymous

    Just because of ONE terrible tragedy doesn’t mean we have to get rid of ALL the mozzarella sticks.

  • Mariana Carvalho

    Plus, if six DPS officers were not capable of holding one man down without having to resort to pepper spray and destroying his face with blow after blow, they clearly need better training

  • Anonymous

    Let me guess, Phil Smith is the captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team. Jocks are always causing problems at Jo’s

  • Tatiana

    Just because New York police officers act like this, and other officers around the United States for that matter, it doesn’t make it okay. Just because “resisting arrest” has similar consequences elsewhere, it doesn’t really make these consequences the “correct” ones forcing us to comply. I’m not saying Phil was correct in his actions, I did not see what happened in person. But from what I heard I do believe DPS officers did not act as they should have, knowing the boy was intoxicated, being on campus to protect students, etc. He stole, yes. But excessive aggressiveness (even towards other students trying to get close to the scene) is completely unnecessary – it seems like DPS officers got angry and let it get to their heads. If we are to change how the police treat individuals in similar situation, why not start by our own bubble? Plus, I do believe there was police brutality – he got punched in the face more than once. If that’s not brutal then I don’t know what is.

  • Anonymous

    Mariana, if six police officers were not capable of holding him down, he CLEARLY was resisting arrest.

  • Anonymous

    Do you think the mozzarella sticks would have ended up with broken faces if they resisted Phil?

  • Anonymous

    As someone who saw what happened, there was no doubt that the police were rough. But with a strong kid who was belligerently drunk resisting arrest, the police acted how they should have. Let’s be clear about 2 things:

    1. The police are here not to protect individual students but to protect the whole brown community. That means if an individual is doing something that could harm the community as a whole, such as assaulting an officer and being belligerent, they have a responsibility to act.

    2. He was not arrested for stealing mozzarella sticks. He was asked numerous times to leave – he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly as well as fighting with police.

    Also, it is my understanding that he was not punched in the face directly but hurt his nose when the cops tackled him to apprehend him. The fact that they needed to tackle him says something about the struggle he was putting up. And i don’t know where the pepper spray came from – i was there the whole time and didn’t see any use of pepperspray.

    Furthermore, to racialize this issue is entirely inappropriate and undermines the legitimate calls for racial equality in America. this was a beligerent student being arrested by the cops, and that is it.

  • Anonymous

    Mariana- There was no pepperspray nor did he receive “blow after blow.” Do not bring in lies to help your friend. Other people were present. Furthermore, given the man’s state you cannot truly believe his story. Phil resisted arrest and was belligerent. DPS acted within their right and duty. End of story.

  • Anonymous

    This is ridiculous. Brown students need to be thankful that the police situation on this campus is not as restricting and harsh as many other campuses. You get away with a lot, and this just happened to be one of those cases where that didn’t happen. He went to jail for assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, not for stealing the stupid mozzarella stick. How about students stop trying to blame everybody else and start learning to control themselves and their alcohol intake.

  • Anonymous

    But controlling our alcohol intake isn’t very fun!

  • Law Enforcement Alumni

    Typical liberal responses. The student refused to obey reasonable and lawful requests to leave, tries to injure the responding police officers, and it is the police who acted irresponsibly? Never mind that if Smith had not gotten plastered, none of this would have happened. Never mind that if Smith had left, none of this would have happened. Never mind that if Smith had placed his hands behind his back when told he was under arrest, none of this would have happened. Never mind that if Smith had not swung at a police officer, none of this would have happened. Somehow, it is the police officers’ fault (and I guess racism, even though the article makes no mention of the race of the student or the officers). In case you are confused, the police officer has every wish, desire and right to go home safely to his/her family. That means if you (or Smith or anyone else) attempts to get in the way of that, the officer has the right to use objectively reasonable amounts of force. He/she does not have to wait until he/she is punched in the face to respond; the officer must react in a manner that the courts and other police officers would recognize as reasonable. Police officers respond the compliance, or lack thereof, of others. It is the individual’s actions that determine how the police officer responds. Personal responsibility…

  • Anonymous

    The overpaid and over pensioned Providence police have to justify their bloated budget, so they have to put on a “show” to justify their relevance every time their is an incident. The Brown student here clearly misbehaved and should be punished appropriately, but there is no reason for the police to act the way they did (per the witness reports) with the other students. Let’s face it –it’s easier to have six cops wrestle down a drunk student than have them patrol the dangerous areas of South Providence.

  • Mariana Carvalho

    Just quickly for whomever the anonymous person was who told me that Phil wasn’t pepper sprayed — I’ve read through all the DPS “victim” reports. They admit to pepper spraying and punching him multiple times.

  • Anonymous

    From what I understand, since I was not there, jo’s gates were closed after a while, so as to separate the huge crowd of students from what was happening with Phil. Personally, I know he was pepper sprayed, so don’t assume that just because you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

  • Anonymous

    The only victims in this case are the mozzarella sticks PERIOD

  • Anonymous

    kid sucks at football just like that whole division 2!! team its not division 1 and is so far from being that, that it is laughable. i hope these kids realize they are basically playing touch football cuz any team in the big 10 would injure every single person on browns team. division1 AA is the most laughable congregation of meatheads who suck at football ive ever seen. they think they are division 1 but i know high school teams that would waste them. about time they start learning some respect and acting like the jv team they are

  • Anonymous

    Phil benches 400+ lbs, people. A drunken temper tantrum on his part requires a ridiculous amount of force to subdue. The only wrong officers really did here was their perceived hostility towards onlookers because that only escalates the situation. End of the day, this punk has made a public fool of himself and brought shame not only to Brown and the football team, but to the Armed Forces. I’d expect more from an ROTC student.

  • Anonymous

    you know what the real problem is? idiots who post this information on the internet and for all his classmates to see and look down on him in shame. he made a mistake, not everybody has to know. quit selling your fellow students out, and report on something important or quit. because this newspaper is hurting Brown student’s careers and it should be embarrassed to be in print.

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  • Anonymous

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I agree that this story does not need to be shared with the entire Brown community. Brown DPS is aggressive and just needed an excuse to do something so malicious with their time. I am personally disgusted by this article and again, it surely does not need to be shared with everyone.

    Pepper spray and a nose bleed over french fries? Are you kidding me…

  • Anonymous

    Brown admissions officers screwed up. They admitted the kid. Those of you who hold DPS to account should hold the Brown admissions officers to account too.

  • Buddy Cianci

    shoulda used crunchbutton