Judge to announce ruling in Sergeant Hanley trial

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A judge will make his decision in the high-profile case of a suspended Providence Police Officer Thursday afternoon.

Sergeant Joseph Hanley is accused of using excessive force during an arrest last April.

The seven-day long trial that happened over the course of five weeks included several witnesses, expert testimonies, and both Sgt. Hanley and the victim, Rishod Gore, on the stand.

The trial also included video evidence; one taken by a witness who lived in the apartment above and the other captured on another officer’s body camera. Both videos show bits and pieces of what happened on April 19th, raising questions about race and policing.

“You’ve got an African American man lying down defenseless in handcuffs and you’ve got a white officer who is doing all these things while he’s down including allegedly kicking him in the head,” Ken Schrieber, ABC 6 News Legal Analyst said.

Schrieber says the judge’s decision is likely based on two key questions: the first, whether or not Sgt. Hanley made contact and kicked Gore in the head, and two, why Sgt. Hanley’s body camera video was not on.

“Do I think there’s a doubt here? In terms of the video, the only way there’s doubt is when they say he kicked him. Is there doubt he didn’t actually kick him in the head? As in, did he never make contact?” Schrieber said. “That’s the whole issue here.”

Gore testified that he feared for his life during the encounter. He said he was punched and kicked in the side and the head. He also said Hanley knelt on his neck while calling him an “animal” and a “savage”.

Sergeant Hanley defended his actions, calling them compliance strikes that are allowed when a suspect is resisting.

Schrieber says even if Hanley is found not guilty, he’ll likely face discipline from Providence Police Department.

“His body camera is not on, so that’s a concern from credibility right from the start,” Schrieber said.

Schrieber says if he’s found guilty, he’ll likely file an appeal and have the right to a trial by jury. That would mean an entirely new trial with new witnesses and new experts.

“I think he’ll be found guilty,” Schrieber said. “I think he’ll file an appeal within 48 hours.”

Sergeant Hanley has been suspended by the Providence Police Department for nearly a year. Mayor Jorge Elorza has previously recommended firing Sgt. Hanley, though that would have to go through the law enforcement’s bill of rights process.

The judge’s ruling will come at 2:00 p.m. ABC 6 News will keep you updated.

Categories: News, Providence, Rhode Island