A Republican candidate for Rhode Island state Senate dropped out of the race on Saturday after a video that went viral allegedly showed him punching his Democratic challenger in the face during an abortion rights rally in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In a video filmed Friday night, Rhode Island Democratic state Senate candidate Jennifer Rourke is seen at a rally outside the State House protesting the Supreme Court’s ruling ending the right to abortion. The video shows tensions escalating, with people throwing punches at each other. Rourke alleged that her GOP challenger, Jeann Lugo, punched her in the face. Lugo is a Providence police officer who was off duty at the time.
The Providence Police Department announced Saturday that it launched a criminal investigation and an administrative review of the “behavior of an off duty officer” during a protest on Friday night involving the assault of a female.
The Rhode Island State Police said Lugo was arraigned on Saturday. Following a joint investigation between the state police and the Providence Police Department, Lugo was arrested on a State Police affidavit and charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. He was released on personal recognizance and assigned a re-arraignment date next month. He is suspended with pay from the Providence Police Department while the incident remains under investigation.
Speaking to the Providence Journal following the incident, Lugo claimed that Rourke had become physical with him, but did not deny punching Rourke.
“I’m not going to deny,” Lugo told The Journal of the punching allegation. “It was very chaotic, so I can’t really tell you right now. Everything happened very fast.”
In a since-removed tweet posted Saturday afternoon, Lugo announced that he is ending his bid 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 reports.
Lugo’s account is no longer active.
According to CNN, Rourke filed a report with Providence police Friday night and with the state police on Saturday morning. Rourke was reportedly seen at a local hospital, and told CNN that she had a headache and ringing in her ears as a result of the altercation.