Providence Chief Sued Over ‘Illegal Suspension’ of Officer

Monday, September 27, 2010

 

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Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman is being accused of skirting state law by suspending an officer for more than two days in a row without first giving him a hearing on the charges, according to a lawsuit filed in Providence County Superior Court on Friday.

Officer Gregory Daniels was suspended for 20 days without pay on September 1, 2010 on a whole host of charges including using racial epithets, sexually suggestive language, and shoving a female officer.

Daniels cites the Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights, a state law, which says that any suspension over two days requires a hearing. (Read the law.) Daniels claims the department circumvented the rules by breaking up the charges against him into a dozen smaller charges and slapping him with a two-day suspension for each one. (Read excerpts from the lawsuit.)

In his suit, Daniels says the department is taking revenge on him because he filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, accusing the department of not taking action against a female officer who he says sexually assaulted him and other male officers. (Read about the case.)

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Suit Warns Other Officers Could Face Unfair Process

The suit suggests that the other officers are at risk of having their rights denied. “Should the court fail to grant Patrolman (Daniels) requested relief, the defendant will simply continue this practice of meting out illegal, severe punishments to Patrol Officers without any of the protections afforded by the (Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights),” attorney Paul Sullivan states in the suit. Sullivan says Esserman knows the punishments “would not survive a full hearing.”

Sullivan yesterday declined comment, as did Esserman. “I’m very comfortable not making a comment about this at this time,” Esserman told GoLocalProv. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on the officer’s action.”

The suit also names Mayor David Cicilline as a defendant, since he serves as the Commissioner of Public Safety for Providence.

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A Dozen Charges Landed Officer in Trouble

The charges that landed Daniels a 20-day suspension range include claims he used the term “stinky punani”— a sexual slur—against Patrolwoman Rosemary Chin. Another time, he allegedly used the phrase “tuna can” to refer to his private parts. (Read examples of some of the charges.)

Daniels is accused of grabbing Chin and shoving her away from him in a separate incident. A department source said Daniels pushed her away after she threatened to hit him in his testicles. Daniels has accused her of sexually harassing him—and the department of protecting her—in the complaint he filed with the Human Rights commission earlier this month.

The other charges include: lying four times about some of the accusations during a disciplinary interview, insubordination against a sergeant, pulling a female officer’s leg while she was on a horse, and being in possession of a “non-sanctioned, cattle prod-like” device.
 

 
 

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