Cranston officer on trial for assault; video of scuffle with suspect shown

West Bay

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A Cranston police officer is on trial for allegedly assaulting a suspect inside the department’s headquarters last year.

Andrew Leonard, 45, was charged with simple assault last May, stemming from a violent interaction he had with a man who had just been arrested. He has since been suspended.

Surveillance video played in court Tuesday showed Leonard tackling, kneeing and punching Gian Mattiello as he was being booked on a domestic violence charge.

“This case does not involve a weapon,” Special Assistant Attorney General Robert Johnson said. “This case does not involve nearly a single plausible element of any danger to an officer in that Cranston cell block.”

In court, Mattiello testified that he was not resisting arrest and did not use explicit language while talking with Leonard.

Instead, he insisted that it was the other way around.

“He called me a coward, a [expletive] punk,” Mattiello recalled. “Really just talking [expletive].”

But Leonard’s attorney, Joseph Monahan, said that’s simply not true.

“Mattiello was upset with Leonard,” Monahan said. “He thought Leonard purposefully destroyed his phone. He made a statement, to the effect, that he was going to ‘kick his [expletive].'”

While the domestic violence charge against Mattiello has since been dropped, he remains in police custody on unrelated charges.

Monahan said Mattiello has a lack of respect for the law and the use of force in this case is completely justified, claiming Leonard was being challenged physically.

“You see that he was able to lift Leonard, who is 220 pounds, right off his feet,” Monahan said. “He was reaching for his duty belt.”

The state argues that Mattiello wasn’t fighting back, although he did testify that he wanted to.

When asked why he didn’t, Mattiello said, “because he’s a cop.”

The bench trial is expected to continue Wednesday.

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