PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An incident during Friday night’s protest at the State House in response to the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade continues to gain national attention.
Video captured by radio and podcast host Bill Bartholomew shows a man who appears to be Providence police officer Jeann Lugo punching Rhode Island Political Cooperative co-founder Jennifer Rourke, one of Lugo’s Democratic opponents for a state Senate seat in Warwick, in the face.
“As I looked to my left that’s when Officer Lugo punched me in the face multiple times,” Rourke said. “I had never interacted with him, ever. That was my first and hopefully my last interaction with him.”
Lugo, 35, is facing a charge of simple assault and disorderly conduct as a result. The three-year veteran of the force was off-duty at the time and has been suspended with pay pending a criminal investigation and administrative review.
On Saturday afternoon, a message posted to Lugo’s Twitter account said he would no longer be seeking political office this year. The account was then deactivated.
12 News tried reaching out to Lugo at his Warwick home on Sunday but said he had no comment and referred all questions to his attorney.
Now, state officials are speaking out about the alleged assault.
“The first time when I saw the video I couldn’t think how could that happen,” Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said. “How could someone use violence that way and against a woman? And to get to the point of violence, this is despicable. No one should be dealing with anything like this. ”
On Twitter, Gov. Dan McKee said, “The violence that occurred at a peaceful protest at our State House this weekend was outrageous. Violence of any kind is unacceptable and we will not stand for it. Thank you to our RISP for investigating this matter. Individuals responsible must be held accountable.”
(Story continues below the video.)
Rhode Island Republican Party leaders have not responded to a request for comment on Lugo.
Lugo will be arraigned again on July 8.
The incident remains under investigation.