Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Police Officer Indicted on Federal Civil Rights Charges
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Providence, R.I., has indicted an officer with the Woonsocket Police Department, charging him with violating the civil rights of a 16 year-old juvenile by physically assaulting him, as well as obstruction of justice.
The indictment alleges that on Sep. 15, 2009, Officer John H. Douglas punched, struck and otherwise assaulted the juvenile and then sought to persuade fellow officers who witnessed the assault to provide a false justification to law enforcement officers investigating the incident.
The indictment was returned on Dec. 9 and was unsealed following Douglas’ arrest today by FBI agents with assistance by Woonsocket Police. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the civil rights violation, 20 years in prison for the obstruction violation and a $250,000 fine for each count.
This case was investigated by Special Agent James Pitcavage of the Rhode Island Division of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John McAdams and Terrence Donnelly, and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro.
An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.