A Republican candidate for the Rhode Island State Senate suspended his campaign on Saturday after a video was posted that appeared to show he beat an opposing candidate in a protest in the wake of the Supreme Court overthrowing Roe v. Wade.
Jeann Lugo, a police officer who was free at the time, is shown on video hit opponent Jennifer Rourke in the middle of a large meeting in Providence, RI, in response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the decision toppled Roe.
The Providence Police Department (PPD) announced on Saturday that it “criminally investigated the behavior of an off-journ officer last night during a protest in which a woman was assaulted.”
“The officer has served for 3 years and taken administrative leave w / pay this morning, awaiting a criminal investigation and administrative review,” wrote the department on Twitter.
This was confirmed by PPD Providence Journal that Jeann Lugo was the officer involved, and the business reported that Lugo was charged with simple assault and disorder later Saturday.
Lugo told the Journal that he “will not deny” the allegations that he hit Rourke.
“It was very chaotic, so I can not really tell you right now. Everything happened very quickly, “he said.
Lugo added in a statement to Boston Globe: “As an officer who swore to protect and serve our community, I unfortunately saw myself in a situation that no one should see themselves in. I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators attacked.”
Rourke wrote on Twitter that Lugo had “violently attacked” her, saying, “That’s what it’s like to be a black woman standing up. I’m not giving up.”
Lugo announced Saturday afternoon that he is ending his campaign for the state Senate.
“I have decided that now is the right time to apply for office, therefore I will not run for office in the fall,” Lugo tweeted according to several outlets. His account appears to have been deleted since.
The Hill has contacted both Lugo and Rourke for a comment.