August 13, 2022

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Rhode Island cop who punched female State Senate rival arrested

NEW DEVELOPMENT: Rhode Island cop who punched female State Senate rival arrested

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Jeann Lugo, the Rhode Island police officer suspended for punching his political opponent in the face at an abortion rights protest has been arrested. A statement released by state police said the 35-year-old Lugo was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, according to NBC News. Prior to his arrest, Lugo announced he was dropping out of the race for state senate after Democratic Rhode Island Senate candidate Jennifer Rourke posted a video of the violent assault, which went viral. The video showed Lugo punching her twice in the face, sparking outrage, and leading to his immediate suspension from the Providence Police Department.

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The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona tweeted the update:

Off-duty at the time, Lugo is a three-year veteran of the force. Placed on administrative leave after assaulting Rourke, the suspended officer was under criminal investigation according to The Washington Post. Prior to Lugo’s arrest on Saturday, Rhode Island Public Safety spokeswoman Lindsay Logue said in a statement:

“The Providence Police Department is criminally investigating the behavior of an off-duty Providence Police Officer last evening during a protest at the Rhode Island State House where a female subject was assaulted.”

In an email, Lugo claims to have been protecting someone under attack from “agitators” and asked for privacy:

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“I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking. At this moment, there’s a pending internal investigation, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I have privacy.”

Maybe he should have thought of that before punching a woman in a public forum.

Pro-choice protests in cities around the country were met with police aggression. In Phoenix, pro-choice advocates were met with tear gas, and in Cedar Rapids, a woman was struck with a vehicle after a heated exchange.

For the most part, the protests were peaceful, but tensions and emotions are running high after the Supreme Court snatched a constitutionally protected right away from half of the country’s citizens. Not just the right to abortion, but privacy. Rourke was right about one thing when she wrote before the protest, “We cannot sit back and watch as the clock is turned back on our rights.” The repercussions of the court’s decision will be far-reaching and consequential.

As far as Lugo, The Post did report that in the video shot by journalist Bill Bartholomew, Rourke appears to be trying to de-escalate the situation, contrary to Lugo’s claims that it was she who got physical with him. But thankfully the Providence Police Department acted swiftly, something rare these days when it comes to holding law enforcement officials accountable. And with Lugo out of the race, it seems Rourke may be one step closer to the Rhode Island State Senate. That’s a good thing – we can use all the Dems we can get.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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