An off-duty Rhode Island cop who was running for state senate was arrested after allegedly attacking a candidate for the same seat at an abortion rights rally on Friday.
Jeann Lugo, who was running as a Republican, allegedly punched his Democrat rival Jennifer Rourke at least twice in the face, Rourke told the Providence Journal.
Video of the incident, shared by Rourke, appears to show the senate hopeful stepping into a physical altercation at the protest before she is struck in the head.
“I’m a reproductive rights organizer & State Senate candidate. Last night, after speaking at our Roe rally, my Republican opponent — a police officer — violently attacked me,” Rourke, who is vying to represent the state Senate’s 29th District, wrote in a tweet alongside the clip.
The video does not show what happened between Lugo, 35, and Rourke, 40, prior to the altercation.
A Rourke campaign rep told CNBC that she went to the hospital for a CT scan.
Lugo was arrested Saturday on a simple assault and disorderly conduct, NBC News reported, citing state police. He was arraigned and released on recognizance after turning himself in.
He didn’t deny the attack in a statement to CNBC.
“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,” he said.
“I stepped in to protect someone that a group of agitators was attacking. At this moment, there’s a pending internal investigation, and as the facts of the incident come to light, I request that my family and I have privacy.”
The Providence Police Department previously announced Saturday on Twitter that it began a criminal investigation into the incident, and placed Lugo on paid administrative leave “pending a criminal investigation and administrative review.”
Rourke is seeking the Democratic nomination in the September primary to run for the Rhode Island state Senate. Lugo was competing for the Republican nomination for the same seat.
Early Saturday afternoon, Lugo announced that he was ending his bid.
“I will not be running for any office this fall,” he said on Twitter, before reportedly deactivating his account.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza called footage of the attack “immensely disturbing.”
“Those responsible will be held fully accountable,” he added in a Twitter post.
The altercation took place during a protest outside the Rhode Island State House in Providence prompted by the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — a decision that ended nearly 50 years of federal protection for the procedure in the US.
The decision was handed down Friday morning — more than eight weeks after a draft version of the opinion was leaked and published by Politico.
In response to the decision, demonstrators took to the streets Friday and Saturday across the country.
With Post wires
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