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RI State Police fire trooper involved in excessive force case

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SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — R.I. State Police have fired a trooper caught on video in 2014 assaulting a suspect in a jail cell.

The video, released in July, appears to show Trooper James Donnelly-Taylor punching Lionel Monsanto multiple times in a Lincoln Barracks jail cell after he was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

Donnelly-Taylor claimed he was defending himself, but he pleaded no contest to a simple assault charge in June 2014 and recieved a one-year suspended sentence.

R.I. State Police Col. James Manni said Donnelly-Taylor “will be removed from the ranks of the Rhode Island State Police.”

In a brief statement, Manni cited the state law that says “the superintendent may remove any member after a hearing, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the division.”

Manni would not comment on what type of hearing was held.

“Because this involves a personnel matter, I have no further comment,” Manni said in a news release.

Donnelly-Taylor had been on injured-on-duty status for the last two years until he was terminated.

Last month, Donnelly-Taylor filed a motion to vacate his simple assault plea, claiming he was ordered to enter the plea by the head of the state police at the time, Col. Steven G. O’Donnell.

“The matter is pending in a court of law and it would not be appropriate to comment on at this time,” O,Donnell said when asked to comment.

Donnelly-Taylor had also filed a lawsuit alleging O’Donnell and former Attorney General Peter Kilmartin violated his rights by not defending him in the civil suit filed by Monsanto.

The R.I. Supreme Court upheld Kilmartin’s decision not to defend the trooper in June 2018.

In May, Donnelly-Taylor’s federal suit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell.

The state settled a separate civil suit filed by Monsanton, who received $110,000 from the state and $15,000 from Donnelly-Taylor.

Donnelly-Taylor’s attorney has yet to respond to a request for comment.

In an interview with Eyewitness News in 2014, Monsanto said he was hit several times in the face.

“He just kept punching, punching and punching,” Monsanto said at the time.

The video release in July showed Monsanto taunting Trooper Donnelly-Taylor with a number of remarks including calling him a racist multiple times.

Manni said there was no excuse for the trooper’s reaction in the jail cell.

“I am profoundly disturbed by the criminal conduct of Trooper Donnelly-Taylor as is displayed on the video,” Manni said when the video was released. “I must emphasize and ensure the public that such violent behavior is not condoned by the men and women of Rhode Island State Police.”

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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