PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Police Sgt. Joseph Hanley is heading to his second trial next month after rejecting a plea deal in court Tuesday that would have spared him jail time.

Hanley, who is accused of assaulting a handcuffed suspect in April 2020, was already found guilty by a judge of the misdemeanor charge in Providence District Court last year. But Rhode Island court rules entitle him to a new trial by jury on appeal.

In court Tuesday, at a proceeding called a Frye hearing, prosecutor Michael McCabe put on the record that Hanley’s “last, best offer” for a plea deal from the court would sentence him to one year probation and five anger management classes. (McCabe said the AG’s office had recommended a sentence of 90 days behind bars and 100 hours of community service.)

Hanley’s maximum possible penalty if convicted at trial is one year in prison.

“Neither the state nor the court is under any obligation to make any offers in the future,” Judge Richard Raspallo told Hanley, adding that the court was prepared to grant the sentence of probation if Hanley accepted the offer.

Hanley confirmed he still wanted to reject the deal. His trial date was then set for June 17.

In a statement, Hanley’s attorney Michael Colucci said the sergeant appreciated the offer.

“However, after nearly twenty years of commendable and exemplary police work, he cannot simply walk away from the opportunity to prove his innocence,” Colucci said. “As such, we look forward to proving to a jury that he acted appropriately, and in accordance with his training and tactical experience, in his response to a handcuffed, but actively resisting, suspect.”

Prosecutors say Hanley punched, kicked and kneeled on the neck of Rishod Gore on Tell Street more than two years ago, an incident that was captured on a fellow officer’s body-worn camera (Hanley’s camera was not recording.)

Gore was in handcuffs on the ground at the time, and repeatedly asked why he was under arrest while Hanley called him an “animal” and a “savage,” video of the incident shows.

At Hanley’s first trial last year, Gore testified that he took the words to be racial slurs, and thought he was going to die.

But Hanley argued his actions amounted to a justified use of force because Gore was resisting arrest by tensing his body. He took the stand in his own defense, and dramatically reenacted the incident on the floor of the courtroom using a lawyer as the suspect.

Judge Brian Goldman sided with the prosecution, convicting Hanley for misdemeanor assault and sentencing him to one year probation. Hanley immediately appealed the case to Superior Court.

Hanley is still employed by the Providence Police Department, where he served six months paid suspension before being placed on unpaid suspension. City leaders say they cannot fire him until his criminal case is adjudicated.  

Hanley’s case has often been cited by those who want to reform the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, a state law that protects police officers accused of wrongdoing.

Hanley, 50, has been on the Providence police force since 2003. He is scheduled to reach 20 years of service in November 2023, which is when officers become eligible for their maximum pension from the city.

Earlier this year, Hanley unsuccessfully tried to get his jury trial moved out of Providence to South County.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.