Waiting for justice for Ryan

August 9, 2012

THE FAMILY of Ryan O'Loughlin, a man who died from injuries he suffered while in police custody, is asking for justice.

On June 11, 2011, 34-year-old Ryan was at a bar in the small Rhode Island town of Westerly when police were called after another patron reportedly punched a hole in a bathroom wall.

When police arrived, Ryan and the other man were standing outside of the bar. Despite the fact that a witness says the bar's owner told the police that the situation was under control, police decided to arrest Ryan and charge him with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Police then claim Ryan refused to place his hands behind his back. They pepper-sprayed him and used their batons on his back and leg. Sixteen hours later, Ryan died in a hospital in Groton Connecticut due to his injuries.

The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Ryan's death was a homicide. The autopsy report showed Ryan suffered from injuries to his chest, head and legs, as well as from "blunt abdominal trauma" and a lacerated liver that caused him to bleed to death.

Despite the overwhelming evidence connecting the police to the murder of Ryan, a Rhode Island grand jury decided last February not to indict the three officers involved in his death.

Outraged by the decision, citizens organized an online petition in May, collecting 3,300 signatures calling on the FBI to investigate Ryan's murder. Although it reviewed the case, the FBI decided in July to not investigate further. Ryan's family is now planning to file a civil lawsuit against the Westerly Police Department.

Westerly Town Manager Steven Hartford issued a statement following the FBI's decision stating that he was "relieved" the police officers were cleared of any wrong doing and that the officers' actions "were justified in accordance with their training." But there is no relief for Ryan's family.

From Anaheim, to Oakland, Chicago, New York and beyond, the police are literally getting away with murder. The killing of Ryan O'Loughlin in Westerly is yet another example of this barbaric trend. Justice for Ryan and his family can only come if the officers who caused his death are brought to justice.

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