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RI State Trooper Accused of Assault Now Suing O’Donnell, Kilmartin for Punitive Damages

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Kilmartin (left) and O'Donnell (right) pictured previously, when they announced no criminal findings in the 28 Studios investigation.

The Rhode Island State Trooper being sued over the 2014 arrest and assault of a Central Falls man is now suing former State Police Colonel Steven O’Donnell, Rhode Island Attorney General Kilmartin, and other state officials for punitive damages for failing to indemnify him in the $2 million civil legal action. 

In 2016, trooper James Donnelly-Taylor was listed as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Lionel Monsanto, who also named O’Donnell and Kilmartin, as well as Governor Gina Raimondo, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, and other state officials, for violation of his civil rights, following Monsanto’s arrest and physical altercation with Donnelly-Taylor at the State Police barracks. This past February, Kilmartin announced his office was refusing to defend Donnelly-Taylor. 

SLIDES: See Trooper Donnelly-Taylor’s Allegations and Claims Against O’Donnell, State Officials BELOW

Donnelly-Taylor recently retained lawyer John Martin — who is representing former YMCA Board Chair Gayle Corrigan in her discrimination complaint against O’Donnell in his present capacity as Greater Providence YMCA CEO, that claims she suffered retaliation from O’Donnell after reporting alleged harassment and discrimination against two other women at the YMCA, who are also represented by Martin in two separate complaints pending against O’Donnell as well. 

In the response filed in district court on March 24, Donnelly-Taylor alleges O’Donnell told him to “take one for the team” and take a nolo contendre — guilty — plea — to the assault charges, and that O’Donnell assured him he would be indemnified in any civil claim. 

New Legal Counsel

Martin requested “pro hac vice” status to defend Donnelly-Taylor before the court, but court documents show the remaining defendants requested his motion be denied - for failing to disclose his involvement with the Corrigan complaint, among other reasons. 

The charges levied by Martin on behalf of Donnelly-Taylor include statutory indemnity and payment of defense costs against the State of Rhode Island; breach of contract, contractual Indemnity, and payment of defense costs against Raimondo, Magaziner, and former Director of Administration DeBiase; tortious interference with contract and violations of U.S. Code against Kilmartin; substantive due process violation against all cross-claim and third party defendants, and multiple violations of U.S. Code and defamation against O’Donnell.  

Trooper’s Take on Incident 

Steve O'Donnell, the former head of the State Police.

The information filed in U.S. District Court on March 24 contains Donnelly-Taylor’s assessment of the 2014 traffic stop and what followed, in which he said Monsanto accused the arresting troopers of being racist and proceeded to threaten them when taken to the state police barracks.  According to Donnelly-Taylor:

Upon entering the cell door the plaintiff suddenly and without warning spun his body one hundred and eighty degrees towards the trooper, dropped his lower elbow and then slammed his elbow into the trooper’s upper arm, just below the shoulder, in an apparent attempt to strike the trooper’s face with his elbow. The momentum and force from his elbow shocked the trooper, caused the trooper physical pain, and caused the trooper’s arm to be hyper-extended into the cell door. 

A video camera located outside of the cell block and fastened to a cinder block wall captured the event. Underneath that camera is a sign that reads “YOU ARE BEING VIDEO RECORDED” with a picture of a video camera.

The Trooper then used appropriate force to subdue the plaintiff, who was not handcuffed or otherwise restrained in any way, and prevent any further threat of harm. State Troopers attend a training academy prior to their first appointment at which they receive extensive training in defense tactics and boxing.  The Trooper then charged Monsanto with appropriate crimes including but not limited to his assault upon the trooper. 

The trooper then timely completed appropriate paperwork notifying his Night Executive Officer (NXO) of the assault/use of force. The use-of-force reports were signed by his commanding officers, including the Superintendent. The NXO called Trooper Donnelly-Taylor on March 24, 2014. During that call, the NXO stated he had viewed the video and confirmed the trooper’s use of force was justified under the circumstances. The Superintendent viewed the video of the incident between the trooper and Monsanto in the holding cell on or about March 21, 2014. 

Colonel O’Donnell subjectively decided that public knowledge of the tape would be harmful to the RISP and, more specifically, would be harmful to his political and personal relationships with leaders of the minority community. 

Trooper's Assessment

In his statements of fact, Donnelly-Taylor’s lawyers said O’Donnell told him he must take plea, and “take one for the team on this one,” and that O’Donnell assured him he would be indemnified in any civil claim. Donnelly-Taylor wanted the case to go to trial. 

in the most court filing, Martin alleges Donnelly-Taylor suffered irreparable harm.

The plea of nolo contendre has created a media frenzy in which Trooper Donnelly-Taylor has been villainized, demeaned, humiliated, and mischaracterized as a trooper who physically assaulted an unarmed prisoner without legal justification. 


RI State Trooper Donnelly-Taylor’s Federal District Court Filing March 24, 2017


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