- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A former Providence police officer and his son were assaulted by his fellow officers and state police, then arrested due to the color of their skin while helping apprehend a suspect, the man alleged in a $1 million federal lawsuit filed last week.

Christopher Owens and his son, Tyler, who are black, were doing yardwork when they heard sirens and saw a tow truck hit a car on their street in 2012. At the time, the driver was fleeing officers, who suspected that he was dealing in stolen vehicles, The Providence Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1YIGiHk ).

the lawsuit alleges Owens, who had worked as a school resource officer, tackled the driver before being assaulted, handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, despite repeatedly identifying himself as a police officer. The suit says he suffered multiple injuries and never returned to work.

His son, who had worked undercover on details with the Providence police, was assaulted, punched in the face and handcuffed, the lawsuit said.

“They were assaulted, arrested, handcuffed and placed in the rear of police cars due to the color of their skin and because they are African Americans,” the lawsuit alleged.

Police later credited Christopher Owens with apprehending the driver and acknowledged that he had been injured. Col. Steven O’Donnell, state police superintendent, said Owens had not followed Providence police policies for identifying himself as an officer at the scene.

“It’s unfortunate he was injured. It was a dynamic scene, but he has some responsibility for what transpired in that backyard,” he said.

Providence police declined to comment on the lawsuit.


Information from: The Providence Journal, https://www.providencejournal.com

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