PROVIDENCE — The chief of the Warwick Water Division slapped a co-worker after saying he wanted to tell a “Nazi joke,” according to a Warwick police report released Tuesday.
Terry DiPetrillo, 51, of Warwick, was arrested on Aug. 11 and charged with one count of simple assault, a misdemeanor, police said. The charge stems from a complaint filed by a co-worker on Aug. 10.
At about 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 8, DiPetrillo asked two co-workers to step into another employee’s office because he wanted to tell “a Nazi joke,” according to a police report that the Globe received Tuesday in response to a public records request.
DiPetrillo asked that employee to stand up and said, “Knock, knock.” As the employee answered, DiPetrillo struck him in the face with an open hand, saying “something to the effect of ‘I’m a Nazi and I get to ask the questions,’ ” according to the police report.
That employee, whose name is blacked out in the report, told the police he viewed the “Nazi joke” as antisemitic because the employee is from a Jewish family. The employee told the police that “while DiPetrillo has never shown any violent antisemitic tendencies, he has made off-color jokes about (the employee’s) Jewish heritage, such as stating, ‘(the employee) would pull over on the highway to pick up a quarter.’ ”
The employee did not seek medical attention after the incident, but told the police he “could feel the imprint of Terry’s hand for over an hour,” and the employee told the police he “could not believe Terry hit me that hard,” according to the report.
The employee told the police that he had never seen DiPetrillo assault anyone before, but that DiPetrillo has a history of “aggressive and hostile behavior” and frequently makes offensive jokes, the report said.
“(The employee) stated that DiPetrillo will frequently yell at people and slam things around,” the report said. “(The employee) stated that on multiple occasions DiPetrillo has slammed his office door hard enough to cause molding to fall out of the wall.”
When Warwick police asked him to come to police headquarters on Aug. 10, DiPetrillo told detectives that he and other employees had been talking about “The Office,” a sitcom TV series starring Steve Carell that he and the other employees often watched and discussed, according to the report.
DiPetrillo told the police that he asked one of the employees if he’d seen an episode the previous night that included “the KGB joke,” and the employee replied that he had not.
“DiPetrillo stated that he then said ‘Knock, knock’ to (the employee). After (the employee) said ‘Who’s there?’ DiPetrillo replied, ‘We will ask the questions’ and ‘simply put my hand on his chin,’ ” according to the report.
DiPetrillo told the police he did the same thing to another employee several minutes later, and he said “employees in the office regularly laugh and tell jokes to keep the atmosphere ‘light.’”
“DiPetrillo denied having any ill intent behind the joke,” the report said. When asked if he was aware that the employee was Jewish, DiPetrillo said the employee had told him his family was Jewish but that he was “non-practicing.”
“DiPetrillo denied having any antisemitic feelings or ever making antisemitic comments,” the report said.
Warwick detectives interviewed two witnesses who work at the water department — Michael St. Pierre and Bree Boulais — who both reported that DiPetrillo had asked the employee to stand up, said “Knock, knock,” and slapped him.
“While (the employee) was trying to respond, DiPetrillo struck (the employee) in the face with an open palm and stated ‘Something to the effect of I’m a Nazi and get to ask the questions,’ ” St Pierre stated. When asked how hard the slap had been, St. Pierre said it had been a “4 out of 10,″ according to the report.
Boulais told police that after the employee stood up, “DiPetrillo stated ‘I’m a Nazi. Knock Knock” and when the employee replied, DiPetrillo struck the employee in the face with an open hand. Boulais told police “the strike left a red mark on the employee’s face and the sound was audible.”
The police report said, “It was learned that the knock knock joke (was) from the television series ‘The Office.’” The employee told the police he knew of that “KBG joke” episode, but had no idea DiPetrillo was acting out that episode because he never said “KGB,” according to the report. “If DiPetrillo had said it correctly, (the employee) would have known what would have happened next and to brace ... or move out of the way.”
DiPetrillo was released on a state District Court summons and scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 7. DiPetrillo began working for the city in August 1998, and he now makes an annual salary of $112,774.
DiPetrillo had no comment when reached by phone on Tuesday, and his attorney could not be reached immediately.