Trooper pleads no contest in assault of detainee

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island state trooper accused of assaulting a man in custody pleaded no contest in the case Wednesday morning.

For a charge of simple assault, a judge sentenced James Donnelly-Taylor, 38, of Warwick, to a one-year filing and ordered him to perform 25 hours of community service.

Donnelly-Taylor, a five-year veteran of the state police, was indicted on the charge in early May. According to the grand jury report, he was accused of assaulting Lionel Monsanto on Feb. 26, who was arrested on a charge of driving with an expired license and being held at the RI State Police Lincoln barracks.

Monsanto was reportedly acting aggressively and confrontational. He admitted to Eyewitness News his license was expired at the time, but claimed he was not aggressive towards Donnelly-Taylor.

“As he led me to the cell he shouted ‘don’t swing at me!’ and I had turned around with a confused face,” Monsanto said. “He just punched me, I was in shock. I’m not going to fight with an officer inside of a cell in a precinct. I did notice the camera to the side of me.”

Rhode Island State Police Colonel Steven O’Donnell said Donnelly-Taylor will be disciplined internally based on his plea and pursuant to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

“As stated on the date of indictment, this is an exemplary trooper. I stand by that,” said O’Donnell. “I commend Trooper Donnelly-Taylor for taking responsibility for what transpired.”

According to the office of the Attorney General, the judge imposed the sentence over the objection of the state, who recommended one year of probation.

A filing is a more lenient sentence, and means that if Donnelly-Taylor stays out of trouble for the next year, the case will be eligible to be expunged.

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