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A Rhode Island police officer charged with punching a political rival at an abortion rights rally was acquitted Wednesday of a misdemeanor simple assault charge by a judge who determined that his actions were justified because he was trying to maintain public order. The judge at the jury-waived trial determined that Providence Police Patrolman Jeann Lugo acted within his authority as an officer when he punched Jennifer Rourke during the June 24 protest, even though he was off duty at the time.

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