Former Providence police recruit suing city for wrongful arrest

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A former Providence police recruit has filed a federal lawsuit against the city claiming he was wrongly arrested by officers he served in the academy with in 2015.

Charm Howie, who was dismissed from the police academy in 2014, claims he was harassed, physically assaulted and falsely arrested on July 25, 2015, by two of his former classmates and their supervisor during a traffic stop.

The nine-count lawsuit claims Officers Matthew Sheridan and Michael Place assaulted Howie during a stop outside of his Adelaide Avenue home. The lawsuit states Howie was charged with two traffic violations and disorderly conduct, but he was found not guilty during a trial.

The suit also names Sgt. Patrick Potter, who was Sheridan and Place’s supervisor. A spokesperson for the city declined to comment this week.

Howie claims the two officers were verbally and physically abusive during the stop. At one point, the suit claims, Sheridan “lunged across the back seat [of a police cruiser,] put both hands around Mr. Howie’s throat, and began choking him” while Place and Potter watched.

The lawsuit claims Howie, Sheridan and Place have a feud that dates back to the academy. Howie was dismissed in June 2014. The suit states the officers “acted out the animosity toward [Howie] from the time they attended the Providence Police Academy together.”

Howie is represented by attorney Shannah Kurland, a well-known city activist who was one of leading advocates for the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA), a new ordinance designed to curb profiling by city police.

The lawsuit claims Howie was fired from his job at a group home after the arrest and before he was found not guilty. Court records show he received a six-month suspended sentence and was ordered to have no contact with a victim stemming from an unrelated disorderly conduct charge in 2016.

Howie Is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as declaratory judgment that the defendants violated the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

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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