Family of man who died after Westerly arrest settles lawsuit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) — The family of a Connecticut man who died after being arrested by police in Westerly has settled a federal lawsuit over his death for $150,000.

Ryan O’Loughlin, 34, of Mystic, Connecticut, died in 2011, hours after he was released following his arrest during a disturbance at a bar. O’Loughlin was beaten during his arrest, and his family argued the force was excessive and led to his death. The medical examiner in Connecticut found he had numerous injuries, including internal bleeding, liver lacerations and bruises, and abrasions to his arms, legs and torso. It listed the manner of his death as homicide.

Michael Colucci, a lawyer for Westerly and its police department, said they did nothing wrong and the officers acted appropriately. A grand jury later found the officers were “legally justified” in their actions.

“The video surveillance evidence of his custody with the (Westerly Police Department) and at the courthouse, coupled with our forensic evidence, established that his death could not have resulted from anything occurring during his arrest or subsequent processing and incarceration,” Colucci said.

He said the town’s expert concluded that injuries cited in O’Loughlin’s autopsy were caused by CPR at the Connecticut hospital where he died.

But Mark Dana, a lawyer for O’Loughlin’s family, said the medical examiner could not determine whether the trauma to the liver was caused by the officers or the CPR.

He said the family is upset the officers were never punished.

“The case revealed systemic problems regarding use of force that we hope will get addressed by the department so that this type of incident never happens again,” Dana said.

The settlement will be paid by the town’s insurer and was around 10 percent of what had been sought by the family, Colucci said.

He said town officials hoped the conclusion of the lawsuit would “bring some measure of closure” to O’Loughlin’s loved ones and to the officers involved.

According to Dana, “The family is satisfied. This was never about the money but about having the police department accept responsibility for the conduct of these officers.”

Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.

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