Providence officer accused of punching woman at abortion rights rally to be reinstated

The city of Providence shares this screenshot of Jeann Lugo during the incident at the abortion rights rally at the State House last June.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — An off-duty Providence police officer accused of punching a woman at an abortion rights rally last summer will not be terminated, an attorney said Wednesday.

A panel that includes Cranston Police Maj. Todd Patalano, Providence Police Cmdr. Kevin Lanni, and retired Providence Police Sgt. Robert Boehm unanimously concluded Tuesday that Officer Jeann Lugo would not be fired and will instead receive a 10-day suspension.

“He will not be paid once he starts his suspension for 10 days,” Chief Col. Oscar Perez said Wednesday.

Perez noted that the department cannot appeal the decision to continue Lugo’s employment.

When asked what Lugo’s role will be once he returns, Perez said the most important thing will be to make sure he’s up to date with training.

Former Chief Col. Hugh Clements called for Lugo to be fired after a video surfaced of a man appearing to be Lugo, who was running as a Republican for state Senate, punch his opponent, Democratic candidate Jennifer Rourke, at an abortion rally outside the State House.

Lugo was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct in connection to the alleged attack, but was later acquitted.

He had a hearing under the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights earlier this year to try and save his job with the department, which he has served for four years.

When asked if LEOBoR should be done away with, Perez said, “It’s due process, it’s the basic due process that anybody gets — and I respect that.”

“I just think that transparency is key, we need to be able to tell our communities what’s going on internally because it gives a perception of unfairness,” he added.

Black Lives Matter Rhode Island issued a statement following the decision of the LEOBoR hearing to keep Lugo on the force, saying in part:

In the wake of this disastrous decision, we demand the full repeal of LEOBoR! There is currently a reform bill working its way through the House chambers; as it sits, it does nothing to prevent a horrible outcome like this. It’s nothing more than a performative piece of legislation to relieve the constant pressure being placed on lawmakers who are beholden to police union donor dollars. To let an officer who committed such an egregious act keep his job does a disservice to the efforts of Providence Police to commit to ‘community policing.’ The community has spoken; we do not want Officer Lugo on our streets to ‘protect and serve’ us any longer.

BLM RI will hold a protest the decision in front of the Providence Public Safety Complex at 6 p.m. on Friday.

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