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Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union

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Police Practices Court Cases

Highlights Over the Years

Everyone needs and deserves effective and humane law enforcement in communities and courtrooms. Yet police abuse continues to be a major concern, particularly in poor communities and communities of color.  The Rhode Island ACLU uses legal action to hold police officers accountable for their actions.


1974: Texeira v. Bristol

A jury awarded damages in this police brutality case on behalf of a minority 13-year-old youth.

1980: Monteiro v. McCarthy

This was an unsuccessful police brutality suit brought on behalf of a developmentally disabled teenager who was beaten by East Providence police officers.

1983: Elmer v. Ricci

The Providence police department issued a formal written apology and paid damages to settle this suit on behalf of a protester who had been arrested while peacefully leafleting outside a building where Henry Kissinger was speaking.

1983: The Rake v. Gorodetsky

Favorable “open records law” decision issued in this case required the Providence Police Department to release various records relating to civilian complaints of police abuse.

1987: Fratiello v. Gorodetsky

Successful federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of two radicals, against Providence police for interfering with their free speech rights through harassment and bad faith arrests; the court struck down two ordinances under which the plaintiffs had been continually arrested.

1994: Ducharme v. State of Rhode Island, Division of State Police

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging the strip search of a person arrested for “disorderly conduct.”

1995: Direct Action for Rights and Equality v. Gannon

Successful open records lawsuit filed on behalf of a Providence community group seeking access to various city police department records relating to police brutality.

1996: Doriney v. Votto

Favorably settled federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a nine-year-old girl summarily suspended from school and taken to the police station after being accused of throwing a snowball at another student off school premises.

1999: Theberge v. Rocco

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging police officers’ warrantless entry into, and search of, a house in order to arrest a person seen to have engaged in underage drinking.

2001: Flowers v. Fiore

Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of an African-American man who was stopped in his car and detained at gunpoint by the Westerly police in an incident of racial profiling.

2002: R.I. ACLU v. Providence Police Department

Lawsuit challenging the Providence Police Department’s failure to comply with the state law requiring police to collect data on all traffic stops for the purpose of determining whether racial profiling is occurring.

2003: Lanoue v. City of Woonsocket

Federal lawsuit challenging, on Fourth Amendment grounds, a police department’s actions in strip-searching the plaintiff and leaving her naked in a holding cell for over five hours after she was arrested for “driving under the influence.”

2005: State v. McCormick

Successful criminal defense of a person arrested for “disorderly conduct” by the Westerly police after being stopped for speeding and allegedly making profane comments.

2006: Estrada v. R.I. State Police

“Racial profiling” lawsuit challenging the hour-long detention of a van based solely on the ethnicity of the driver and passengers.

2009: Simone v. Town of Johnston

Favorably-settled federal lawsuit challenging a police department’s illegal disclosure of a resident’s private driver’s license information to a town council member for political purposes.

2011: R.I. ACLU v. Department of Public Safety

Lawsuit challenging the adoption of regulations by the State Police significantly limiting public access to arrest reports and other police records.


Return to: Recent Police Practices Cases


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