Cranston senator accused of damaging SUV

By: - June 23, 2023 5:18 pm

Rhode Island Sen. Joshua Miller, A Cranston Democrat, speaks with a Cranston police officer wearing a body camera at the Garden City Shopping Center on Thursday, June 22, 2023.

State Sen. Joshua Miller, a Cranston Democrat, is facing a misdemeanor vandalism charge for allegedly keying an SUV with an anti-Biden sticker.

A mugshot of Sen. Joshua Miller taken by Cranston police as his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of malicious vandalism was processed. (Photo courtesy of Cranston Police Department)

Cranston Police said a man reported that he and a passenger were returning to the SUV in the Garden City Shopping Center parking lot on Thursday at around 4 p.m. when they heard a loud scratching sound and saw a man wearing a suit jacket holding a key. 

Police observed a single long scratch mark on the rear passenger door, consistent with that of a car being freshly “keyed.” The vehicle had a sticker in the rear window which said “Biden sucks.”

The man seen outside the SUV was identified as Miller, 69, after the vehicle owner saw a “Re-elect Senator Josh Miller” bumper sticker on the rear of his vehicle. Miller was first elected to the Rhode Island Senate in 2006 and chairs the Committee on Health & Human Services. Among his legislative priorities, he is known as a leader in expanding access to mental health and addiction treatment services.

About two hours after receiving the SUV owner’s complaint, police said they located Miller outside the shopping center, who denied damaging the victim’s SUV. Miller was not wearing a suit jacket. In footage recorded by an officer’s body camera, Miller said he believed the SUV belonged to one of the “gun nuts” he said had stalked and threatened him because of his work in the General Assembly.

Police reviewed surveillance video at the Whole Foods Market and said there is video of Miller taking off his jacket inside the store. He used a self-checkout to pay for items and bag them and put his jacket on top of the items in the bag, police said.

Miller’s encounter with the police was reported by WJAR’s Gene Valicenti on Twitter Friday and quickly led to the release of the legislator’s mugshot and police body camera footage.

In an email Friday, Miller’s attorney John MacDonald stated, “On behalf of Joshua Miller, there will be no comment in this matter until court proceedings are concluded.”

Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist said in a statement Friday that Miller had not filed any complaints of being stalked to the police department.

Police went to question Miller again, this time at his home, where they said the legislator admitted he had damaged the SUV because its owner had been yelling at him and “dared him” to do it.

Miller voluntarily went to Cranston Police headquarters, where he was charged with vandalism/malicious injury to property. He was arraigned by a justice of the peace and released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

Miller is scheduled to appear in the Third District Court in Warwick on July 18.

“Nobody is above the law, including those who make and enforce the laws,” Winquist said. “The officers who handled this investigation did so with fairness, integrity, and without preferential treatment.”

Joe Powers, chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, called on Miller to resign from the General Assembly in a tweet posted Friday. “This behavior is unbecoming of anyone holding a leadership position,” Powers wrote. “State Senator Joshua Miller has proven once again the he does not have the composure required to represent every constituent in his district and must resign immediately.”


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Christopher Shea
Christopher Shea

Christopher Shea covers politics, the criminal justice system and transportation for the Rhode Island Current.