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Mystic man arrested by Westerly police was homicide victim, attorney says

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: theday.com

Published September 20. 2011 2:19PM   Updated September 20. 2011 2:23PM

Providence — The attorney for Ryan O'Loughlin, a Mystic man who died in June 16 hours after being arrested by Westerly police, announced this afternoon that an autopsy report shows O'Loughlin was the victim of homicide.

During a press conference at his office, attorney Mark Dana said O'Loughlin, a 34-year-old Navy veteran, sustained 12 separate injuries during his arrest, including the lacerated liver that caused him to bleed to death.

"In short, Ryan was beaten to death," said Dana, who was surrounded by O'Loughlin's widow, parents and other family members.

Dana criticized then-Westerly Police Chief Edward Mello for saying a few days after O'Loughlin died that his death was not the result of excessive force.

"We felt at the time that was irresponsible, and in light of this report it was factually incorrect," Dana said, adding that Mello's statement was "ludicous."

Dana said Rhode Island State Police and the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office are investigating O'Loughlin's death and that he expects a grand jury to be convened to determine if charges should be filed against the three officers involved in O'Loughlin's June 9 arrest. He said he will also file a lawsuit against the Westerly Police Department on behalf of O'Loughlin's family.

Dana said that during the arrest, O'Loughlin never assaulted any of the officers but only refused to put his hands behind his back. He said toxicology tests showed O'Loughlin had no drugs or alcohol in his system. 

O'Loughlin was arrested at 12:52 a.m. outside the Perks & Corks wine bar on High Street in Westerly. Later that morning, he was brought to the Fourth Division District Court in Wakefield, R.I., where he pleaded not guiitly to charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and was released on bond in the afternoon.

O'Loughlin began vomiting after he returned home to Mystic, and his wife took him to the Pequot Medical Center in Groton, where he died at 5:10 p.m.

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