Providence close to settlement in 2009 police brutality case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A Central Falls man who is currently serving a year in prison on a gun charge is nearing a settlement agreement with the city of Providence stemming from a federal police brutality lawsuit he filed in 2012.

Luis Mendonca, who was beaten with a flashlight while he was in handcuffs by a Providence police officer in October 2009, was seeking $7 million from the city, but he will receive “substantially less” from the deal, according to Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Crowell declined to say exactly how much Mendonca is slated to receive, but confirmed the city will share the costs with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which was also named in the suit. The deal must still be approved by the City Council Committee on Claims and Pending Suits, which has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday night.

Robert J. Caron, Mendonca’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment Friday. A spokesperson for RISD did not immediately respond to a request comment.

Luis Mendonca following a police beating in 2009.
Luis Mendonca following a police beating in 2009.

Mendonca was being pursued on foot by Providence police and security officers from RISD and  and was eventually captured in an East Side parking lot in 2009. Police said he was suspected of theft and trespassing.

Surveillance video from the incident showed Det. Robert DeCarlo striking Mendonca to the head while the suspect was in handcuffs. The beating left Mendonca in a coma, according to the lawsuit.

DeCarlo was found guilty of felony assault for assaulting Mendonca, but a judge dismissed the conviction finding there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments of the trial. He resigned from his position in the police department in 2011. He was not eligible for a monthly pension.

Mendonca, now 27, has built a lengthy criminal record in the years following the assault. Earlier this month, he began serving a one-year sentence for possession of a firearm without a license in 2015, according to Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.

Mendonca’s lawsuit is one of more than 1,000 active civil lawsuits the city is involved in. The budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 set aside $500,000 for all claims and settlements.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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