NEW BEDFORD, MASS. (WPRI) -- New Bedford police are investigating the alleged beating of a robbery suspect at the hands of a mob.
Police Chief David Provencher tells Eyewitness News that the department is "further investigating the circumstances" of 22 year-old Joseph Defreitas's beating after he attempted to rob the J&L Market on Maxfield Street Wednesday.
Store owner Juan Rodriguez said Thursday that Defreitas threatened him with a knife and demanded money, but Rodriguez pulled out a knife of his own, then grabbed a baseball bat and chased Defreitas away.
As the robber fled, Rodriguez yelled for help and a group of people tackled the suspect and began beating him. Rodriguez told Eyewitness News that he tried to stop the crowd and actually protected Defreitas with his own body until police officers arrived.
Rodriguez said the crowd also stripped the suspect of most of his clothes.
Chief Provencher said Saturday morning that the department is investigating whether or not the crowd used excessive force in subduing Defreitas, and that the outcome of that investigation will determine if any of those people will face charges.
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