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Former police officer sentenced to year in prison

December 3, 2010

WOONSOCKET – A former city police officer will serve a one-year and one-day sentence in federal prison for his beating of a city boy held in custody at the police station on Sept. 15, 2009.
Former Patrolman John H. Douglas was also given six months of home confinement by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi that he will serve as part of two years of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.
Douglas was sentenced during an appearance before Judge Lisi Friday morning.
U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha, who prosecuted Douglas on the criminal charge of violating the youth’s civil rights, said in a statement that “most police officers strive to serve their community every day with dedication and distinction, often making split second decisions that put their lives on the line to protect others.
“But when an officer chooses to abuse his authority and violates the civil rights of a person he or she is supposed to protect, their conduct will not be tolerated and they will be justly punished,” Neronha said.
The assault on the boy, 16 at the time, occurred after he had been arrested following a car chase. The youth was believed to have injured another city police officer during a struggle following the car stop.
Douglas, a department member for five and a half years, pleaded guilty to assaulting the boy after directing another officer to remove his handcuffs as he was led through a small hallway at the station out of the view of department surveillance equipment.
The investigation found Douglas to have repeatedly punched and kneed the boy while he remained in leg shackles, according to Neronha.
The youth suffered blunt force trauma and bone fractures in his face. The assault came to light when the boy was arraigned before now-retired Family Court Chief Justice Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. Jeremiah asked the youth about his apparent injuries during the appearance and subsequently requested that an investigation be opened.
Special Agent James Pitcavage of the FBI investigated the boy’s allegations that his injuries had occurred at the police station; members of the police department present at the time confirmed his story.
Douglas was arrested on federal charges related to boy’s assault in December of 2009 and resigned from the police force before pleading to the allegations in U.S. District Court, Providence in June.
While submitting his plea, Douglas, represented by Attorney Thomas Briody, apologized for his assault on the boy. Briody has attributed the outburst to an outburst of anger resulting mental health issues the officer was experiencing at the time.
Thomas E. Perez, assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said Monday that while police officers are entrusted with “a great deal of power so that they can carry out their critical public safety duties, those officers who abuse that power and violate the civil rights of individuals in their custody will be held accountable. Also prosecuting the case were Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terrence P. Donnelly and John P. McAdams, and trial attorney Avner Shapiro of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Douglas was ordered to report to federal prison on Jan. 4 to begin serving his sentence.

Comments

two wrongs don't make a right

January 5, 2012 by blogman (not verified), 2 years 50 weeks ago
Comment: 808

Yea ok so the victim may not be an angel but that dosn't give Douglas the right to do what he did. As far as the mental issues claim i feel is bogus seeing how he had enough brains to wait untill they were out of the sight of the security camras. Regardless officer douglas took an oath to serve,protect and to uphold the law, he faild. Police have alot of power and it seems latly far too many have been abusing it.

Former Police Officer John Douglas

December 8, 2010 by cwilson1 (not verified), 4 years 2 weeks ago
Comment: 126

When you read the recent 2 comments, it seems that they are justifying what happened. Yes, the juvenile may be a troubled young man and the officer may have had some mental issues at that time. But, the officer took a vow, to uphold and to protect the City of Woonsocket. He was in authority. It was up to him to uphold the law at that time of this young man's arrest. Two wrongs does not make our actions right. No matter how agitated this young man may have made the officer, he was still obligated to uphold his oath.

I pray for both of them, that their lives and actions will change. We are not to judge, but to pray and hope that they will make better decisions and change their lives due to this unfortunate situation.

Just as the other commenter

December 6, 2010 by Anon220 (not verified), 4 years 2 weeks ago
Comment: 123

Just as the other commenter stated this was no "innocent 16year old boy". This is a 16year old the size of a grown man arrested and charged many times on different accounts. In fact the "boy" was caught committing a crime not to long before John Douglas received his sentence. This article is extremely biased and makes a GOOD man seem like the villain. The Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division should know better than to defend someone with a record such as this kid and make him seem like he was such an angel. Nowadays "civil rights" has grown to RIDICULOUS levels defending murderers, rapist, drug dealers etc. While what John Douglas did was wrong given he was a police officer this kid deserved what he got wholeheartedly.

Media Sensationalization

December 4, 2010 by Tucker33 (not verified), 4 years 2 weeks ago
Comment: 120

This is a great person who had a moment of weakness. The media likes to sensationalize the story and make it seem like it is just another bad cop. Don't judge a book by its cover. We have all done things that we weren't proud of or lost our cool in a moment of rage. Unfortunately, you will end up hearing more about the juvenile delinquent in the future than you ever will about the police officer. The story fails to mention how this youth was consistenly in trouble with the law and how he intentionally provoked the officers that day. The juvenile bragged while at juvenile detention that he would someday "own the City of Woonsocket". He told other inmates that he knew exactly what he was doing. I hope you all sleep with your doors locked at night because the juvenile is TROUBLE!

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