Narragansett pays $75K settlement in 2020 excessive force lawsuit

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island ACLU on Monday announced that it settled a lawsuit filed three years ago against Narragansett, accusing a school resource officer of unlawfully assaulting and arresting a special education student.

The ACLU said that 11th-grader Michael Blanchette was thrown to the ground, choked, and arrested by school resource officer over a rude hand gesture he gave the SRO, identified a Kyle Rooney.

The incident happened in 2018 and was caught on video.

The ACLU said Monday the school district agreed to pay Blanchette $75,000 in monetary damages.

“We are very pleased that Michael has received monetary payment for the disturbing action taken against him,” Steven Brown, Rhode Island ACLU executive director, said Monday.

According to the ACLU, the incident arose when Rooney confronted Blanchette about whether he was allowed to walk in the school hallway at the time.

Blanchette replied, saying he had permission.

After a brief argument, the ACLU said Blanchette gave Rooney “the finger and began to walk away,” but the SRO quickly grabbed the 11th-grader and “violently threw him on the floor.”

The ACLU said Rooney’s arrest report falsely claimed that he took this action because Blanchette “aggressively took a step towards me.”

Blanchette was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Both charges were later dropped.

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