State trooper asks court to vacate plea in assault case

Headquarters for the Rhode Island State Police in Scituate. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

WARWICK, R.I. (AP) – A Rhode Island State Police trooper who pleaded no contest to punching a man in a holding cell has asked a court to vacate his plea on the grounds it was coerced by the former chief of the department.

The Providence Journal reports James Donnelly-Taylor filed a motion Monday seeking to vacate the plea he made to a charge of simple assault in the June 2014 beating of a 36-year-old man.

Donnelly-Taylor said former state police Col. Steven O’Donnell said he would be protected and allowed to keep his job if he pleaded. O’Donnell has denied that.

Surveillance video shows Donnelly-Taylor throwing several punches.

His attorney says the detained man swing his elbow first.

If the plea is vacated, the case would go to trial.

Donnelly-Taylor is currently on medical leave.