PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Police Officer Jeann Lugo was at the center of another hearing Tuesday, nearly three months after he was found not guilty of assault.
Even though Lugo was acquitted, he faces another hurdle to rejoin the force. Through a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) hearing, a panel of three active or retired officers will decide if Lugo should get to keep his job as a police officer.
One of the panel members at Cranston Municipal Court said the closed-door hearing could last all week.
Lugo was accused of attacking political rival Jennifer Rourke during an abortion rally outside the Rhode Island State House last June. He was off duty at the time.
At trial, Lugo told the court he used police-trained “strike techniques” on Rourke, who was restraining him during the melee. The judge found Lugo’s actions were in line with keeping public order and therefore justified.
Despite the verdict, Providence’s police chief at the time still moved to terminate Lugo, but LEOBOR protects officers from being fired outright until there’s an internal investigation and a hearing.
“[Lugo’s firing] was a recommendation made by our beloved Chief Hugh Clements at the time,” current Chief Oscar Perez said. “The LEOBOR process works just like that, the officer is going to have his rights. It’s the due process.”
Lugo has been on paid administrative leave since the incident outside the State House. He offered no comment to 12 News outside court Tuesday.
Perez said he’ll stand by whatever ruling is made at the hearing.
“At this point, where I stand, I have to respect the decision of the LEOBOR panel that was put together by the committee and whatever that decision is, the decision will be,” the chief said.