NBC 10 I-Team: Pawtucket cop fired after attack on elderly casino bathroom attendant
The NBC 10 I-Team has confirmed a Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights panel decided a Pawtucket police officer should be fired for allegedly punching a then-73-year-old men’s room attendant in the face, according to the attorney representing the city.
Officer Michael Tousignant, 37, of Harrisville, has faced legal and professional hurdles since the April 2017 incident at Foxwoods Casino.
Tousignant had reportedly complained about the water in the restroom being “too cold” and then allegedly smacked the elderly man, the NBC 10 I-Team has learned. The alleged attack was said to be unprovoked.
Tousignant admitted to authorities he had been drinking and testified that he had had approximately twelve beers. He was arrested by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police and charged with misdemeanor assault.
The NBC 10 I-Team was told the casino’s security video showed the distraught attendant exit the bathroom with a bloody face. But Tousignant’s case was sealed after a Connecticut judge gave him what’s called accelerated rehabilitation -- if he completed community service and probation.
While the Connecticut case worked its way through court, Pawtucket Police Chief Tina Goncalves started the process of removing the veteran officer of 10 years from the force.
The NBC 10 I-Team learned he was charged with nine counts of violating the tenets of police work, including untruthfulness.
“He entered Foxwoods a cop and he left Foxwoods a criminal,” said Vincent Ragosta, an attorney who prosecuted the case for Pawtucket. “He engaged in an act of vicious, violent, unprovoked assault upon a man who was working perhaps the most humble job one could imagine -- cleaning sinks, toilets, urinals.”
Police officers in Rhode Island have an extra layer of job security under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. A panel of three peers decided Tousignant’s fate in a written decision after a multi-day hearing. The victim and his family traveled from Connecticut to testify, the NBC 10 I-Team has learned.
“A resounding message this hearing committee sends through its decision is you are responsible for your conduct both on and off duty,” said Ragosta.
Tousignant can appeal the panel’s decision to Superior Court. He has been suspended with pay since being charged, but that salary ends Tuesday. An attempt to reach him was unsuccessful.
Mayor Don Grebien reacted to the decision Tuesday with the following statement to the NBC I-Team:
“Any conduct by any city police officer that is disrespectful of the badge they wear and the public they are sworn to serve and protect is simply unacceptable. The City was prepared to take any and all actions to ensure that the values and noble work of the Police Department were not tarnished because of the actions of one individual. The City is pleased that the panel agreed and ruled in our favor. As we have done in the past, wherever conduct by a police officer or any other city servant falls short of what the public deserves and expects, we will address it at every level.”