Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Director responds to verdict in Sgt. Hanley case

Mark Fisher of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island says this verdict is a start for them, but that they still have a long way to go in terms of reforms.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A district court judge today found Providence Police Sargent Joseph Hanley guilty of assault on a handcuffed man last spring.

Judge Brian Goldman said the evidence from the seven day trial spread out over the last five weeks left him with the impression that the testimony from the victim, Rishod Gore, was credible, while Sargent Hanley’s testimony was not.

Hanley was sentenced to one year of probation and five anger management classes, and ordered not to contact Gore.

Mark Fisher of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island says this verdict is a start for them, but that they still have a long way to go in terms of reforms.

“It was a good verdict, a good decision come down that he’s guilty of assault because that’s what it was, obviously,” said Fisher. “Everybody saw.”

Fisher is alluding to the body camera video of the encounter which was released to the public this fall, by former‚Äč Providence External Review Authority Executive Director Jose Batista.

Batista was fired for doing so. He declined to comment on today’s verdict.

Fisher says the verdict is a step in the right direction toward improving police and community relations, which the organization advocates for.

“Having this officer found guilty of the obvious – now we want him to be removed, we want him to be removed from his job,” said Fisher. “But what we want ultimately is police reform.”

Black Lives Matter even played a role in the trial at one point. Sargent Hanley’s lawyer Michael Colucci brought up Gore’s arrest history and the fact that he wore a Black Lives Matter mask during his testimony, to implicate a bias against police.

“You’re wearing a Black Lives Matter -,” said Colucci.”
“Is that a problem?” asked Gore.
“You’re wearing a Black Lives Matter mask in this courtroom,” said Colucci.
“Right,” responded Gore.
“And you know they stand for anti-police, de-funding police, obliterating police if they could, true?” asked Colucci.
“I don’t agree with that,” said Gore.

Fisher says he didn’t agree with that characterization either.

“When you have a man who is obviously no threat, pinned to the ground, kicked and punched, face smashed into the ground, it doesn’t matter what he’s wearing!” said Fisher.

Hanley’s lawyer will be appealing the decision, possibly allowing him to have a jury trial.

Fisher says he was not happy with Thursday’s sentencing, and believes Hanley should have to serve some time at the ACI, rather than no time at all.

It’s unclear what this means for Hanley’s employment by the Providence Police Department.

Providence Police, as well as the Providence External Review Authority, have not yet responded to ABC 6’s request for comment on this case.

Sargent Hanley and his lawyer also declined to comment outside court today.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island