PROVIDENCE, RI – Four Pawtucket cops and a Department of Health official are accused of falsifying DNA and other evidence that led to the false arrest of an immigrant father of four for a decades-old murder of a ten-year-old girl, according to a federal lawsuit filed here today.
City of Pawtucket police officers Susan Cormier, Trevor Lefebvre, Daniel Mullen and Tina Goncalves and the Department of Public Health’s Tamara Wong stand accused of fabricating evidence to “solve” a 32-year-old cold murder case, becoming “heroes” by falsely pinning blame for the crime on Joao Monteiro, an African immigrant with limited English language skills.
The police defendants allegedly falsified statements from Mr. Monteiro, taking advantage of his limited English language skills to falsely make it appear as though he lived near the murder scene decades ago. Working with defendant Wong, they “further fabricated purported DNA evidence, and misrepresented it in order to obtain an arrest warrant,” according to the suit.
“To get away with this misconduct, Defendants bypassed standard procedures by excluding representatives of the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General (AG) from the arrest process and by not seeking a grand jury indictment as the basis for an arrest. When members of the AG did finally have access to the ‘evidence’ presented by Defendants, they dismissed the charges against Plaintiff, and did not take the case before a grand jury.”
As the suit further notes, the officers bypassed the AG in part because “Cormier wanted publicity for solving ‘cold cases. Defendant Cormier was a media hound who frequently issued press releases in order to be in the limelight (as she did in this case). For instance, Defendant Cormier and other Pawtucket Defendants created a playing-card deck of 52 cold cases that she proclaimed to the media that she was personally going to solve…. Cormier conducted a weekly media spotlight about her ‘cold cases,’ highlighting one case a week for a year.”
Trumpeting their “success” in solving a decades-old crime, the officers caused immense notoriety for Mr. Monteiro, causing him to lose his job of 15 years and become homeless. The immense trauma caused by the loss of his home, job and reputation have led to his inability to now work and function in society.
Mr. Devine represented Mr. Monteiro from his July 2019 arrest, successfully fighting for the granting of bail, and the January 2020 dropping of all charges against him.
Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the suit, Joao Monteiro v. Susan Cormier, Trevor Lefebvre, Daniel Mullen, Tina Goncalves, City of Pawtucket and Tamara Wong, Case No. 1:21-cv-00046 can be found here.