PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence police officer has been suspended for his alleged actions during an altercation among a large group of people late last month.
On the evening of Tuesday, June 29, police responded to a disturbance of what was described as of at least two households.
Video of the incident obtained by 12 News showed officers yelling at the residents and hitting some of them with their batons. One officer was seen pepper-spraying the crowd as officers attempted to detain someone on the sidewalk behind him.
Providence Police responded by saying they were reviewing the behavior of several officers on scene. Shortly after the incident, Target 12 learned that Sergeant Gregory Paolo had put in for retirement after he had been placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.
Then, Saturday morning, when asked if he could confirm an officer by the name of Patrick Hourahan was disciplined, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré responded, “I can confirm the Officer was disciplined with a suspension of 10 days as a result of the Sayles St incident.” Paré added that Hourahan’s suspension was without pay.
In a news conference in the days following the incident, Paré said he wouldn’t comment on whether they believed appropriate force was used until the investigation was complete, but he added that there was no excuse for the language heard in the footage.
Body camera footage of the altercation has also been released to the public.
12 News reached out to the union representing Providence police officers, Providence FOP Lodge #3. They issued the following statement:
The FOP stands behind the men and women of the PPD. We think this discipline is an example of how out of touch the Mayor and Commissioner are when it comes to the reality officer’s live and deal with on a daily basis. Maybe they should come to these disturbances and mediate for us and guide the officers on how to respond to a situation. Instead of standing by their officers they criticize on scene actions taken by them, and they do this from their protected office spaces. They speak ill of the profession as though it’s something we should be embarrassed of, sorry to disappoint we will not be broken. These types of actions and the anti-police movement and activists are creating a dangerous society which will only create lawlessness and police being challenged daily, as they are now, making it more difficult to address the unruly behavior and criminal activity of those who choose to disregard the laws of our society. The sad reality is not only will police be put in more danger so will the businesses and residents because of this misguided false narrative being pushed. Cooperation and compliance with police, and less intentional hostility towards and antagonizing of police officers, will reduce the tensions between police and those parties involved while reducing the need to escalate the level of force necessary to effect arrest. This will help to create the police department you want as it would foster better relations between police and the community.”Providence FOP Lodge #3
A GoFundMe set up to support Officer Hourahan raised more than $15,000 in less than 24 hours.