Family blames police in death of Mystic man

Westerly - The attorney for the family of a Mystic man who died 16 hours after being arrested by police on June 9 said Tuesday that his death was the result of excessive force used by the officers who arrested him for disorderly conduct.

A police officer hit Ryan O'Loughlin with his baton outside Perks & Corks on High Street, according to a police report, and also used pepper spray.

The attorney, Mark Dana of Providence, said there is no videotape or other evidence that O'Loughlin suffered any injuries between the time of his arrest on June 9 and when he was pronounced dead at the Pequot Medical Center later that same day.

"In my review, the force used for this disorderly conduct arrest is excessive," Dana said, adding that repetitively striking O'Loughlin with a baton was not warranted just because "he was not moving the way they wanted him to."

Dana said he is waiting for the state Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner to determine how O'Loughlin died. He said that determination is expected in early September.

In addition to the statement by officers that O'Loughlin was hit in the legs with a baton, Dana said there are indications he also suffered head and torso injuries. Dana said a mug shot shows that O'Loughlin suffered a jaw injury.

Dana said he is trying to determine who the witnesses are to the case. He said local and state police have not turned over the documents he has requested.

O'Loughlin, 34, was arrested at 12:52 a.m. outside the downtown coffee/wine bar. Later that morning, he was brought to the Fourth Division District Court in Wakefield, R.I., where he pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and was released on bond in the afternoon.

O'Loughlin was not feeling well after he returned home and was taken to the Pequot Medical Center in Groton, where he died at 5:10 p.m.

Perks & Corks owner Bryan Keilty called police when a man punched holes in the bathroom wall. He said O'Loughlin seemed to know the man, whom police identified as Daniel Smith, 28, of 21 Cottrell St., Mystic, and he followed him outside in an effort to convince him to pay for the damage.

Keilty has said police told O'Loughlin to be quiet but that he kept talking, though he was not swearing.

But according to reports by Officer Terence Malaghan and Sgt. David Turano, O'Loughlin swore at the officers. Officer Greg Barna told O'Loughlin to put his hands behind his back because he was under arrest, but he refused and resisted being handcuffed.

Barna also pepper sprayed O'Loughlin, who, although "visibly affected" by the spray, continued to refuse to comply with officers' orders, according to the officers' reports.

The report states Barna then began to deliver strikes to O'Loughlin's legs. The officers then took him to the ground but struggled with him for a few minutes before placing him in handcuffs.

Police Chief Edward Mello said this week that the incident remains under investigation. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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