A police officer in Rhode Island has been charged with assault after it was claimed that he punched a Black female Senate opponent at an abortion protest. Patrolman Jeann Lugo, 35, of Providence, was reportedly not on duty when he allegedly assaulted Jennifer Rourke on Friday.
Rourke, the chair of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the state senate. She alleged that Lugo punched her in the face at least twice. The event took place as the accused police officer was running for the Republican Party’s nomination for the same seat at the time. After the incident, Lugo, who was charged with simple assault and disorderly behavior, suspended his candidacy.
In addition, the accused officer has been suspended with pay while the event is being investigated. The alleged assault took place during a demonstration at the Rhode Island State House, which was brought about by the US Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. The 1973 landmark ruling established the constitutionality of the abortion right.
A woman is seen being hit during a physical altercation during the rally in a video of the alleged attack. Trying to escort a counterprotester who had agreed to leave the protest site, Rourke told the Associated Press that she was repeatedly hit in the face. Rourke claimed that she had made complaints against the accused policeman.
Lugo turned himself in to authorities on Saturday, and he was then charged in court. July 8 is the date of his subsequent court appearance. The accused cop stated in an interview with the Boston Globe that he “stepped in to protect someone that a bunch of agitators was attacking.”
Additionally, he stated to the Providence Journal that he was “not going to deny” assaulting Rourke. Everything, he claimed, “happened really quickly.”
Rourke, however, asserted that she had never met Lugo and was not aware that he would be at the demonstration. I find it disappointing that he used violence in this manner. He is taught to deescalate because he is a police officer. He failed to carry out his training, Rourke told the Associated Press.
Following the event, Rourke visited a hospital and received a CT scan. She added that although she was fine, the claimed assault had left some effects on her.