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Providence police officer found guilty of simple assault

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced today that a Providence police officer was found guilty in 6th Division District Court of simple assault, stemming from an April 19, 2020 incident during the arrest of an East Providence man.

Following the conclusion today of a seven-day trial before District Court Judge Brian A. Goldman, the court found Sergeant Joseph Hanley (age 49) guilty of one count of simple assault.

At today's hearing, the court sentenced Sgt. Hanley to one year of probation and ordered that he complete anger management classes. The court also issued a No Contact Order between Sgt. Hanley and the victim.

Prosecutors for the State recommended to the court that Sgt. Hanley be sentenced to one year at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) with 90 days to serve and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation, as well as 100 hours of community service and a No Contact Order.

"I am pleased with the Court's decision today, which was plainly warranted based on the evidence presented at trial" said Attorney General Neronha. "Police may use force in exercising their duty to protect the public, but that use of force must be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances. Here, as Judge Goldman found, Sergeant Hanley's use of force in striking Mr. Gore was clearly excessive. Accordingly, Sergeant Hanley's conduct constituted an assault against Mr. Gore, and he must now pay the consequences of his criminal misconduct.

"Police officers have a difficult and often thankless job," continued Attorney General Neronha. "They work hard to protect the public, and the vast majority serve honorably and well. However, when an officer fails to uphold his oath and uses excessive force against a member of the public, it is imperative that we take strong action to hold them appropriately accountable for such misconduct. I am grateful to the prosecution team, including the Providence Police Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, for their diligence in ensuring a successful prosecution in this important case."

At trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on the night of April 19, 2020, Sgt. Hanley repeatedly kicked and struck Rishod Gore while Gore was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

That evening, officers from the Providence Police Department responded to a domestic dispute at a home on Knight Street. Following that arrest, officers identified Gore as an individual alleged to have interfered with their investigation of the individual responsible for the domestic dispute. As a result, officers removed Gore from the passenger side of a vehicle and placed him under arrest.

It was while Gore lay prone on the sidewalk with his arms in handcuffs behind his back that Sgt. Hanley repeatedly kicked and struck him in the head and torso areas.

Sgt. Hanley gave notice to the court that he will appeal the verdict to the Rhode Island Superior Court.

Special Assistant Attorney General Michael S. McCabe, Assistant Attorney General Daniel Guglielmo, and Sergeant Paul Zienowicz of the Providence Police Department led the investigation and prosecution of this case.

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