By John Hill Journal Staff Writer Apr. 2, 2015 Providence, R.I. - Two police officers have been disciplined, one with a day's suspension, after a city man said they chased him, knocked him down and took his cellular phone so they could erase video he'd taken of them, the lawyer who represented the man in the case said Wednesday.
Attorney Shannah Kurland, who represented John Prince, said her client had been notified by the Police Department that a departmental hearing officer found the officers guilty of violating department policies in the Sept. 10, 2014, incident. She identified the officers as Sgt. Roger Aspinal and Patrolman Francisco Guerra. But Police Department spokeswoman Lindsay Lague would not confirm that, saying the department was not allowed to discuss internal disciplinary matters. The department advised her that a letter was ordered put in Aspinal's file and he was suspended for a day, Kurland said. A letter was also ordered put in Guerra's file. A third, unidentified police officer was found not guilty of violating department policies, she said, but all three were ordered to undergo training. Guerra was awarded the department's Chief's Award for the patrol division in 2009 for arrests he made in a homicide case. Kurland called the decision "as good as can be expected from an internal complaint process."
John Prince, who works with Direct Action for Rights and Equality, a social justice group that often criticizes the police, said the result showed that "people should stand up when they are being mistreated. A closed mouth won't get fed." John Prince said the incident began outside his house, when he saw the two police officers putting a suspect in their car. They began to question two women who were passing by in what John Prince said he thought was an unjustified way. He said he went in his house, got his phone and began taking a video of them. One officer said not to tape him, John Prince said. He said when he headed back into his apartment house one of the officers leaped over the low fence in his yard, caught him in the hallway, wrestled with him, took his phone and erased the video.
Caught.net: Why did the Journal put "a city man" (first paragraph) in the article when they knew it was John Prince?