Providence police officers on administrative duty over alleged beating

Cheryl Phillips – December 10, 2009
Providence Business News Examiner

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island police have been in the news and the business of protecting residents of this small state seems to be taking a backseat to police using their power to assault citizens. Whether these people were arrested or not, it seems as if police brutality is on the rise in Rhode Island.

resized_luis_mendoncaEarlier in the week a story about two Providence police officers beating an unarmed suspect was in the news after months of speculation as to why the officers weren’t put on leave right after the incident happened in October.

Today, Woonsocket police Officer John H. Douglas was arrested, accused of brutally beating a teenage boy and then encouraging fellow officers to lie about it to the FBI. He has been on the Woonsocket police force for five years. Douglas pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of violating a person’s civil rights and obstruction of justice. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Douglas’ lawyer defended him after his court appearance, saying he was “a model policeman.”

According to a report in the Providence Journal, the FBI launched an investigation in September after a 16-year-old boy appeared in state juvenile court severely injured and said several police officers beat him up. Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah said at the time, that the boy had a boot mark on his back and one of his eyes was swollen shut. The boy’s lawyer, Robert Laren, said officers shot him with a stun gun, broke his eye socket and brutally beat him in the police station.

Douglas, 34, of Blackstone, Mass., has been with the Woonsocket police department for five years and spent four years in the Marine Corps before being honorably discharged, his lawyer Peter DiBiase said.

When officers tried to arrest the teen in September, they suspected he was someone who had escaped from a probation program. The teenager allegedly threw one of them to the ground, splitting the officer’s lip, Lt. Jalette said in September. After a struggle, the boy was taken to the hospital for injuries that were described by officers as minor. He was then brought to the police station and then to the custody of the state involved in his probation program.

The teen’s lawyer, Robert Laren, stated that the boy told them he was brutally beaten by several officers during the arrest and then twice more at the police station. Office Douglas is currently on unpaid administrative leave.

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