A male off-duty Rhode Island police officer who was running for state Senate physically attacked his female political opponent at an abortion rights rally, she said.
Windfall Police said Saturday that they’ve placed the cop, Jeann Lugo, on paid administrative leave as they launched a criminal investigation into Friday night’s alleged assault, which was captured on video.
Courtesy Bill Bartholomew — The Bartholomewtown Podcast
Lugo, who was running for Senate District 29 as a Republican, dropped out of the race Saturday afternoon. “I is not going to be running for any office this fall,” he wrote on Twitter, before temporarily deactivating his account.
Jen Rourke, a progressive running for a similar seat who identifies herself as a reproductive rights organizer, said that Lugo “violently attacked me” after her speech on the rally outside the state house in Windfall following the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
“That is what it’s to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t surrender,” Rourke wrote in a tweet that included a snippet of video of the incident.
The five-second clip, taken by Bill Bartholomew, an area journalist who runs The Bartholomewtown Podcast, appears to point out a person throwing two punches at a girl’s head, not less than certainly one of which connects with its goal.
Rourke went to a hospital in Kent, Rhode Island, on Saturday for a CT scan, a campaign spokesman told CNBC.
The Windfall Police Department tweeted Saturday that it’s “criminally investigating the behavior of an off-duty officer last evening during a protest where a female was assaulted.”
The officer, later explicitly identified as Lugo, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the final result of the review, the department said. A spokesperson for the department didn’t immediately reply to CNBC’s requests for comment.
Before dropping out of the state Senate race, Lugo sent an announcement to CNBC appearing to defend his actions without denying that he punched Rourke.
“As an officer that swore to guard and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in. I stepped in to guard someone that a bunch of agitators was attacking,” Lugo’s statement said. “At this moment, there is a pending internal investigation, and because the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I actually have privacy.”
Bartholomew, in an interview with CNBC, said that about 1,000 people had attended the rally to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling, which on Friday morning struck down the legal precedents that had protected federal abortion rights for nearly 50 years.
About 10 members of a right-wing group often called the Freedom Fighters also showed as much as the event, Bartholomew said. One in every of those members, who was filming, gave the impression to be goading some members of the gang. After being asked to depart, the person at first refused, then began to walk away — but when he turned back toward the gang, someone punched him within the face and stomped on him, Bartholomew said. “A melee ensued,” the local journalist said, at which point he saw Rourke getting hit within the face.
Neither Lugo nor other members of the gang who allegedly engaged in violence were arrested at the moment, Bartholomew said.
Rourke, in an announcement to CNBC from her campaign, said she was “deescalating the situation and the counter-protestor was leaving when the altercation began.”
“I used to be assaulted because of this of that,” she said.
“That is what it’s to be a Black woman running for office. All across this country, people like me are threatened or attacked once they run. I’m not going to stop fighting – for reproductive rights, for the people in my district, or for people like me who need to run for office,” Rourke said.