Rhode Island state Senate candidate suspends campaign after video shows him hitting opponent at protest

A Republican candidate for Rhode Island state Senate suspended his campaign on Saturday after a video was posted that appeared to show him hitting an opposing candidate at a protest in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Jeann Lugo, a police officer who was off duty at the time, is shown on video hitting opponent Jennifer Rourke amid a wide Providence, RI, rally in response to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the decision overturning Roe.

The Providence Police Department (PPD) announced on Saturday that it was “criminally investigating the behavior of an off duty officer last evening during a protest where a female was assaulted.”

“The officer has served for 3 yrs and placed on administrative leave w/pay this morning, pending a criminal investigation and administrative review,” the department wrote on Twitter.

The PPD confirmed to The Providence Journal that Jeann Lugo was the officer involved and the outlet reported that Lugo was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct later Saturday.

Lugo told the Journal that he is “not going to deny” the claims that he hit Rourke.

“It was very chaotic, so I can’t really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast,” he said.

Lugo added in a statement to The Boston Globe: “As an officer that swore to protect and serve our communities, I, unfortunately, saw myself in a situation that no individual should see themselves in. I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking.”

Rourke wrote on Twitter that Lugo had “violently attacked” her, saying, “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won’t give up.”

Lugo announced on Saturday afternoon that he is ending his campaign for state Senate.

“I’ve decided now is the right time to seek office, therefore I will not be running for any office this fall,” Lugo tweeted, according to multiple outlets. His account appears to have since been deleted.

The Hill has reached out to both Lugo and Rourke for comment.

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