Police Accused of Beating Man Taping Arrest

     PROVIDENCE (CN) – Three officers beat up a man and stole his phone after they saw him recording them making arrests, the alleged victim claims in court.
     John Prince Jr. sued the City of Providence, three officers, the chief of police and the commissioner of public safety for excessive force, assault, battery and impairment of freedom of speech.
     In a complaint filed Wednesday, Prince says he was at home at about 9:30 p.m. the night of Sept. 10, 2014, when he suddenly heard people yelling outside.
     He went outside to see what was causing the distress, and saw officer Roger Aspinal “speaking aggressively, rudely, and roughly to women on the sidewalk [in front of his apartment complex], while searching their possessions and persons,” the complaint says.
     Aspinal had arrived to assist Officer Francisco Guerra in arresting a man, who was now in handcuffs, according to the complaint.
     Prince claims he told Aspinal to not be disrespectful to the women he was detaining, and then went inside to get his mobile phone to record the event.
     When he returned, Prince says he stayed behind his over three-and-a-half-foot high wrought iron fence to film the incident, but Aspinal “demanded” Prince stop filming and produce his identification.
     Meanwhile, the complaint says, officer Louis Gianfrancesco arrived at the scene.
     Prince claims he told the officers he was allowed to film and did not have to show his ID, and then turned around to go back inside “to avoid the possibility of escalation.”
     Aspinal yelled, “Get that phone,” and Gianfrancesco and Guerra jumped the fence, and chased Prince into the apartment building, the complaint says.
     Prince claims after the front door to the building closed behind the officers, they “battered, grabbed, [and] shoved” him.
     Once Prince fell to the ground, he claims the officers took his phone, deleted the video, and threw the phone in the bushes.
     The next day, Prince says, he called Providence Police, and a captain told him to file a complaint.
     During a subsequent investigation into the officers’ action, Aspinal admitted of assaulting Prince had no “probably cause” to warrant those actions, the complaint says.
     Prince says he was eventually prescribed muscle relaxers for pain caused by being placed in a headlock.
     All three officers were required to undergo retraining, and Aspinal also received a 1-day suspension without pay.
     Prince seeks compensatory and punitive damages on multiple counts of impairment of freedom of speech, use of excessive force, unreasonable search, unreasonable seizure, assault and battery.
     He is represented by Richard Sinapi of Warwick, Rhode Island.

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