Family mourns loss of correctional officer who died of COVID-19

CRANSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – On Monday, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections announced the passing of one of their own after a fight with COVID-19.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must report the loss of Lt. Russell Freeman, who passed away early this morning from complications of COVID-19”, Department of Corrections Director Coyne-Fague said on Monday.

Coyne-Fague said that Lt. Russell Freeman began his career with the RIDOC in 1991 as a correctional officer.  Freeman was promoted to the Special Investigations Unit in 2006, where the department said “he served with distinction, garnering an excellent reputation among law enforcement for his tenacity and professionalism”.

In 2014 Freeman was promoted to Lieutenant, assigned to the Women’s Facility.

Coyne-Fague said Freeman’s personnel file is “replete with commendations and letters of appreciation for his work, and he was a credit to this Department.”

Freeman is survived by his wife and their three children.  His wife, Lisa Favino-Freeman, is a Correctional Officer from Medium Security.

“He was devoted, and committed, and passionate, and loving in everything he did,” Stone Freeman, Lt. Freeman’s son, told ABC6. “Whether it was coaching tee-ball or you come home and you just need somebody to talk to; our dad was that guy.”

“We are at a loss for words. Everything our Dad did he did with purpose, integrity, passion and love”, said Stone Freeman in a Facebook post.

He continued, “Our Dad lived life with zero regrets. He was larger than life. He never lost the 6-year-old inside of him. He was a beam of light in a dark world, the shoulder you needed to cry on and was always there to put a smile on your face.”

The Department of Corrections says arrangements are in process and will be announced once they are completed.

Coyne-Fague mentioned that RIDOC Peer Support is available for anyone in the department who needs it during this time.

Director Coyne-Fague ended her statement by saying, “We can – and we will – get through this together.”

According to the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Lt. Freeman was the department’s first COVID-related death.

On Monday morning, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced the recommendation to begin vaccinating frontline hospital workers.

“The Department of Corrections has also created a cross-divisional vaccine team, which include members from their Ins/Ops Division, Rehabilitative Services Division (Health Care), Administrative Division. An invitation was also extended to the Rhode Island Brotherhood Of Correctional Officers to be a partner in this coalision. According to Director Coyne-Fague, the goal of this team is to educate about the vaccine, work on logistics and administration of the vaccine.”

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, Cranston, News, Regional News, Rhode Island, Warwick