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PPD officer charged with assault

Detective Robert DeCarlo, a 16-year veteran of the Providence Police Department, was arraigned Wednesday at the Rhode Island Superior Court in Providence on two counts of assault. The charges stemmed from an incident last October in which DeCarlo took part in the arrest of a trespassing suspect at the Rhode Island School of Design. Though a surveillance video allegedly shows DeCarlo beating the suspect in custody, he pled not guilty to both assault counts.

In October, DeCarlo, along with other members of the Providence Police, responded to a call for assistance from RISD public safety officers. Luis Mendonca, a young Rhode Island resident, was arrested for trespassing in RISD dormitories. But, in making the arrest, DeCarlo allegedly beat the handcuffed suspect with his flashlight.

Though Mendonca was found guilty in December of assaulting the public safety officers, he filed an official complaint after the release of a surveillance video that captured the alleged assault by DeCarlo.

Though DeCarlo's attorney, Peter DiBiase, declined to comment to The Herald on the case, he told the Providence Journal after last week's arraignment that the video does not fully represent events. He said his client was responding to a dangerous situation in which he could not, due to darkness, see whether the suspect was restrained.

Last Monday, DeCarlo was suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the case. If convicted, he could face a combined sentence of 21 years in prison.

Alberto Cardona, Mendonca's lawyer, told the Providence Journal his client sustained serious injuries in his altercation with the police. He added that Mendonca was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment, where he was in a coma for two days and doctors needed 12 staples to close a wound in his head.

Though Mendonca received a sentence of 90 days in Cranston's Adult Correctional Institute after his arrest, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the federal authority on immigration, recently took him into custody.

Because the government often deports foreign nationals who have been convicted of crimes, Mendonca faces deportation to his native Cape Verde even though he legally resides in the United States. 

But ICE has been facing opposition on this matter. In January, Providence Mayor David Cicilline '83 wrote a letter to the agency expressing his hope that Mendonca would be allowed to remain in the country until DeCarlo's case is resolved.

Cardona told The Herald the mayor's office refused to give him a copy of Cicilline's letter and said he suspected the mayor was "not on our team."

Mendonca's case comes before immigration court today where he will be represented by another attorney, Cardona said.

As of now, with DeCarlo's case still in progress, Mendonca is "still here," Cardona said. "He's still in the country. He's a legal resident. We don't believe there's a basis to hold him."

He said "immigration was informed — or misinformed — in an effort to cover this case up," but added that he's hopeful about Mendonca's trial in immigration court. 

"We have one of the best immigration attorneys in the state," he said.



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