Off-duty officer charged after assaulting woman during protest in Providence, police say
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — An off-duty Providence police officer has been charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct at an abortion rally at the State House Friday night.
Providence police identified that officer to ABC 6 News as Jeann Lugo, a three-year veteran of the force.
Lugo, according to his website, is a Republican candidate running for state Senate.
Rhode Island Political Cooperative co-founder Jennifer Rourke, one of Lugo’s opponents, said he attacked her during a brawl that broke out while thousands rallied at the State House against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Radio and podcast host Bill Bartholomew captured footage of the incident, showing a man who appears to be Lugo, punching Rourke in the face.
According to the police report, Rourke was struck twice in the head. She told police Lugo did not say anything during the assault, but fled after the third punch.
“I’m a reproductive rights organizer & State Senate candidate. Last night, after speaking at our Roe rally, my Republican opponent — a police officer — violently attacked me,” Rourke wrote in response to the footage.
“This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t give up,” she added.
In a tweet Saturday, police said that the investigation stemmed from the behavior of the off-duty police officer at a protest.
“The Providence Police Department is criminally investigating the behavior of an off-duty Providence Police Officer last evening during a protest at the Rhode Island State House where a female subject was assaulted,” a spokesperson for the department wrote in a statement.
“I’ve decided now is the right time to seek office, therefore I will not be running for any office this fall,” Lugo tweeted Saturday afternoon.
Lugo has been with Providence police for three years and was placed on administrative leave with pay Saturday morning, pending a criminal investigation and administrative review.
In response to the incident, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza tweeted in part, “I’ve seen the vide and it’s immensely disturbing. Those responsible will be held fully accountable.”