State House in Providence, Rhode Island
Yiming Chen | Moment Mobile | Getty pictures
A Providence, Rhode Island police officer who had run for the state Senate as a Republican was arrested Saturday on charges related to his alleged physical assault on his female political opponent at a meeting for abortion rights the day before.
The arrest of patrolman Jeann Lugo came hours after a video of his alleged assault while not in service on Jen Rourke outside Rhode Island State House went viral on Twitter, his administrative suspension from the Department of Police and his resignation from the Senate.
Lugo, 35, was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct, state police said in a press release.
He was released on his own initiative after joining a state police barracks in Rhode Island and being brought before a justice of the peace. The three-year-old police veteran will next appear in court on July 8.
Courtesy Bill Bartholomew – The Bartholomewtown Podcast
State Police, which has jurisdiction over the State House, said two arrests were made during the demonstration, one by a woman for disorderly conduct, and the other by a man for that charge, as well as for weapons other than a firearm, and oppose arrest.
“We would like to thank the public who have lined up to report these incidents, we encourage anyone with further information to contact the police.” said Colonel Hugh Clements, Providence Chief of Police.
Rourke, a progressive running for the same seat who identifies as an organizer of reproductive rights, said Lugo “violently attacked me” after her speech at the Providence rally following the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that had established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973.
“This is what it is like to be a black woman running for office. I do not want to give up,” Rourke wrote in a tweet that included an excerpt from a video of the incident.
The five-second clip taken by local journalist Bill Bartholomew appears to show a man throwing two blows at a woman’s head, at least one of which is related to the target.
Rourke went to a hospital in Kent, Rhode Island, on Saturday for a CT scan, a spokesman for the campaign told CNBC.
The Providence Police Department prior to Lugo’s arrest earlier Saturday had tweeted that it was “investigating the behavior of an off-duty officer last night during a protest in which a woman was assaulted.”
Lugo was put on paid administrative leave on Saturday pending the outcome of the review, the department said.
Lugo, who ran for Senate District 29 as a Republican, dropped out of the race Saturday afternoon.
“I will not run for office this fall,” he wrote on Twitter, before temporarily disabling his account.
Lugo had launched his bid for the Senate after dropping out of a race for lieutenant governor earlier this year.
Before dropping out of the state Senate race, Lugo sent a statement to CNBC that seemed to justify his actions, without denying that he beat Rourke.
“As an officer who swore to protect and serve our communities, I unfortunately saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in,” Lugo said in the statement.
“I went in to protect someone who was attacked by a group of agitators.” An internal investigation is currently underway, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I ask that my family and I have privacy. “
Bartholomew, who runs The Bartholomewtown Podcast, told CNBC that around 1,000 people had attended the demonstration to protest the Supreme Court ruling on Roe.
Around 10 members of a right-wing group known as Freedom Fighters also showed up for the event, the reporter said.
One of these members, who was filming, seemed to tease some members of the crowd, Bartholomew said.
After being asked to leave, the person first refused, and then began to walk away – but when he turned to the crowd, someone punched him in the face and trampled on him, Bartholomew said.
“A melee followed” before he saw Rourke hit in the face, the reporter said.
Neither Lugo nor other members of the crowd who were allegedly involved in the violence were arrested at the time, Bartholomew said.
Rourke, in a statement to CNBC from her campaign, said she “de-escalated the situation and the counter-protester left when the quarrel started.”
“I was assaulted as a result,” she said.
“This is what it is like to be a black woman running for office. All over this country, people like me are threatened or attacked when they run,” Rourke said.
“I will not stop fighting – for reproductive rights, for the people in my district, or for people like me who want to stand for election.”