Off-Duty Rhode Island Cop Charged for Allegedly Punching Female Political Opponent at Abortion Protest: Police

Rhode Island Cop Punches Political Opponent
Jeann Lugo was arrested over the weekend. Rhode Island State Police

Providence Police Department officer Jeann Lugo has been placed on paid leave during an administrative and criminal investigation, authorities said.

A Providence Police Department officer running for state office has pulled out of the race after he was charged with assault after allegedly punching his opponent in the face during a Rhode Island abortion rights rally.

Jeann Lugo, 35, was placed on administrative leave pending administrative and criminal investigations of the events at a chaotic Friday night demonstration against the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The 1973 landmark ruling had made abortion a federally protected right.

In a video filmed by radio and podcast host Bill Bartholomew, Lugo is apparently seen hitting Rhode Island Political Cooperative co-founder Jennifer Rourke, one of Lugo’s Democratic opponents for a state Senate seat in Warwick.

Lugo was charged Saturday with simple assault and disorderly conduct and was released on his own recognizance, according to the Rhode Island State Police. Lugo's arraignment is scheduled for July 8, authorities said.

The officer's attorney, Daniel Griffin, said in a statement Monday that there was "far more to what occurred" than what has been reported. He is searching for witnesses and more video footage of the incident, he said.

The video shows several agitated people at the Friday gathering, with some of them trying to get one man to leave when shoving and fighting breaks out.

"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 on Twitter Friday. "This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up," she said.

On Saturday, Lugo tweeted, "I will not be running for any office this fall." His Twitter account has since been deactivated.

Lugo told The Washington Post in an email that he had “stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking” at the protest. “At this moment, there’s a pending internal investigation, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I have privacy," he said.

Rourke said she had pressed charges against her former opponent and had experienced soreness and ringing in her ears after being hit in the face at least two times.

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