Police officer flashlight-beating case back in court

PROVIDENCE, R.. (WPRI) – A former detective for the Providence Police Department – seen on video surveillance striking a handcuffed suspect with a flashlight – had a dismissed felony charge expunged from his record Wednesday.

Robert DeCarlo was found guilty of felony assault for striking Luis Mendonca after a nighttime foot chase, but a judge dismissed the conviction finding there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments of the trial.

In a plea agreement with the Attorney General’s office DeCarlo pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 2013, but the dismissed felony charge remained on his record. He was given a one-year suspended sentence and probation.

Prosecutors had appealed Judge Francis Darigan’s decision to dismiss the felony charge but dropped the appeal as part of the plea agreement.

On Wednesday Magistrate Judge John McBurney agreed to expunge the felony charge. DeCarlo was not present for the hearing.

Having a charge expunged means it will forever be wiped from an individual’s record and under seal at the courthouse.

In October 2009 police were pursuing Mendoca on foot, he was suspected of theft and trespassing. He was eventually captured in an East Side parking lot and surveillance video showed DeCarlo striking Mendonca to the head while the suspect was in handcuffs.

Mendonca has filed a lawsuit against the city alleging police brutality and is seeking $7 million.

DeCarlo was suspended without pay until last year when he reached an agreement with the city and resigned.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @white_tim

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