A Rhode Island police officer accused of assaulting a woman during an off-duty abortion protest was suspended and paid Saturday while the Providence Police Department opened a criminal investigation into his conduct.
Rhode Island Political Cooperative President and Senate nominee Jennifer Rock told the Providence Journal that she was slapped at least twice by Jean Lugo, the Republican nominee for the Rhode Island Senate seat. Lugo told The Wall Street Journal that he “won’t question” the batting allegations, but added that “everything happened very quickly.”
“Unfortunately, as an officer sworn to protect and serve our community, I find myself in a situation where no one should ever see myself,” he told the Boston Globe in an email. “I stepped in to protect a person who was attacked by a group of instigators.” Lugo did not immediately respond to The Associated Press’ request for comment.
Video of the incident posted online showed two other people getting into physical confrontation at the protest just before one woman, apparently Rourke, was shot. The video does not show what happened between Lugo and Locke before Locke was hit.
Locke is seeking the Democratic nomination in the September primary to run for the Rhode Island Senate. Lugo had sought the Republican nomination for the same seat.
“I’m a black woman running for office,” Locke told The Wall Street Journal. “No, no need for that. I won’t give up.”
This content was imported from Twitter. You may find the same content or more information in different formats on their website. I’m a reproductive rights organizer and state Senate candidate. Last night, after I spoke at Roy’s rally, my Republican opponent – a police officer – slammed me.
The incident happened when she tried to escort a counter-protester who had agreed to leave, Locke said in a call to The Associated Press. As she led the man out of the house, there was another physical confrontation, during which she was punched several times by Lugo.
Locke said she never interacted with Lugo and did not know he would be at the protest. “I’m disappointed that he chose to use violence in this way. As a police officer, he was trained for de-escalation. He didn’t do what he was trained to do,” she said. Locke sought medical attention and had a CT scan on Saturday afternoon. She said she was fine, but her face felt soft and her ears buzzed.
She said she filed a complaint against Lugo. On Saturday afternoon, Lugo tweeted that he would withdraw from the game. “I’m not running for office this fall,” he said. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza addressed the conflict in a tweet, but said he was limited in what he could say. “I saw this video and it was very disturbing,” Eloza said. “Those responsible will be held fully accountable.”
In a press release announcing the suspension, the Providence Police Department said the officer who was suspended is a three-year veteran. The brawl took place during protests outside the Rhode Island State Capitol in Providence on Friday, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade overturning a 1973 ruling that provided constitutionally mandated abortion right.