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RI CRIME

R.I. senator accused of keying car with anti-Biden sticker will face additional obstruction charge

State Senator Josh Miller is accused of vandalizing a car displaying a “Biden sucks” bumper sticker. The chairman of the state Republican Party called on Miller to resign.

In a screenshot from body camera footage, Senator Josh Miller is questioned by an office about an alleged vandalism at Garden City Center in Cranston, Rhode Island.Cranston Police

CRANSTON, R.I. — There are more legal troubles for a state senator accused of keying a car displaying an anti-Biden bumper sticker last month.

Senator Josh Miller, a Cranston Democrat, will face an additional charge of obstruction of a police officer, according to Cranston City Solicitor Christopher Millea.

Millea told the Globe he will file the additional charge before Miller’s arraignment next week on the initial vandalism charge.

“After the review of all the police reports of the officers who were there, a thorough review of all the video surveillance of the Garden City area including Whole Foods, and a review of the body-cam footage both at Garden City and later in the evening, I believe there is probably cause to charge Mr. Miller with obstruction of a police officer in the line of duty,” Millea said.

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Miller, 69, was arrested last month after a man said the senator keyed his car in the parking lot of Garden City, an outdoor shopping center. The alleged victim’s car had a bumper sticker that said “Biden sucks.”

Lengthy body-camera videos released by the Cranston Police Department one day after the incident showed Miller initially denying the crime when stopped by police, telling officers he felt threatened by the man.

“Is it the maniac who yelled at me in the car next to me?” Miller said in the video. “I didn’t scratch his car. I’m a state senator, I think he recognized me, I think he’s one of the gun nuts.”

Miller said he was afraid to go back to his car after the incident, instead walking around the shopping plaza and to nearby Whole Foods to get groceries. Police, meanwhile, said they were looking for him in Garden City.

Later that night at his home, body camera video shows Miller acknowledged to police that he keyed the car, but said he was being threatened.

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“Why would you key his car?” Major Todd Patalano asks the senator in the video.

“He was already threatening me,” Miller said. “As soon as I opened my door, he said, ‘Hey Miller, what are you going to do?’”

Senator Josh Miller, left, is seen in body camera video being questioned by Cranston police at his home several hours after he is accused of keying a car at a shopping center.(Cranston Police handout)

“There was a statement made that there was an altercation that was properly investigated and it never happened,” Millea said Wednesday, explaining the basis for the new charge.

Obstruction of a police officer, a misdemeanor, carries a penalty of up to a year in prison or a $500 fine.

Miller, who has not yet commented on the criminal case against him, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the new charge. His defense attorney, John MacDonald, declined to comment.

The longtime senator has represented parts of Cranston and Providence for 16 years, and is the chair of the Committee on Health & Human Services. He also owns two Providence bars, Hot Club and Trinity Brewhouse.

The R.I. Republican Party on Wednesday called on Miller to resign in light of the new charge. In a statement, Chairman Joe Powers also made reference to a previous incident where Miller told a gun-rights activist at the State House to “go [expletive] yourself.”

“Last month, state Senator Joshua Miller keyed the car of someone he disagreed with politically and subsequently lied about the incident,” Powers said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first time the senator has retaliated against someone he disagrees with politically. Whether it’s verbal attacks or, in this case, damage to personal property, Miller has shown disregard for anyone that is not aligned with his own party.”

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Senate President Dominick Ruggerio declined to comment while the legal process plays out, his spokesperson said.

Miller is scheduled to be arraigned on the new obstruction charge and the original charge of vandalism/malicious injury to property on Tuesday.

This story has been updated with a comment from Republican Party chair Joe Powers.







Steph Machado can be reached at steph.machado@globe.com. Follow her @StephMachado.