Worcester police use Taser to subdue preacher accused of throwing door into officer at Waverly Street church
Worcester MA Aug 27 2019
Worcester police used a Taser to subdue a preacher inside a Waverly Street church Sunday evening after being called to the building for a custody issue.
The Worcester Police Department said 55-year-old Joseph Rizzuti Sr. was arrested after he tried to prevent officers from entering the Cornerstone Bible Baptist Church at 78 Waverly St.
Authorities said he threw a door into one of the officers and was subsequently Tased.
Worcester police were called to the church for a report of “custodial interference.” As officers were trying to assist the mother, authorities said Rizzuti kept stepping in front of the officers while telling the woman not to speak with police.
Officers allegedly asked Rizzuti to step aside so they could conduct the investigation, but he continued to yell at the police while telling the woman to leave.
Authorities said as police approached Rizzuti, he turned and ran into the church, throwing a door into one of the officers.
Officers struggled with Rizzuti inside the church and deployed a Taser to subdue him.
He was placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, interfering with a police officer, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest.
The officer injured by the door was treated on scene by paramedics, according to Worcester police.
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Two other individuals – 30-year-old Joseph Rizzuti Jr. and 29-year-old Karissa Rizzuti – were also charged with interfering with police officer and resisting arrest.
Joseph Rizzuti Jr. is listed as the church’s pastor on its website. He is married to Karissa Rizzuti, according to the webpage.
A video posted to the church’s Facebook page shows Joseph Rizzuti Sr. — an evangelist — preaching at a Sunday service before the incident.