Outrage Grows as Police Defend Use of Force Outside Worcester Strip Club

Police are saying use of force was warranted during the arrest of two brothers at a Massachusetts strip club over the weekend as outrage grows over video depicting the arrest. reports the Worcester Police Department is responding to a circulated video showing police arresting the two men on Sunday, as one was repeatedly punched in the head by an officer. Police say the use of force falls within the "parameters of policy and training standards" under the circumstances.

Police say 23-year-old Mitchell Lugo of Spencer and his brother 27-year-old Zachary Lugo of Rutland yelled racial slurs at the officers as they punched back.

According to court documents, the men were asked to leave the Riviera Show Club on Sunday morning after it had closed.

As officers arrived to try and contain the scene, police said they asked the brothers to leave the area. But they said the brothers continued to scream at the people they had been fighting.

As one officer tried to get Zachary Lugo away from the area, police said he allegedly squared up to the officer in a combative stance. At this same time, Mitchell Lugo and the detail officer were involved in a struggle where Lugo had his arm hooked around an officer's head.

Mitchell and Zachary continued fighting with the two officers on the scene before other law enforcement officials arrived, police said. Eventually, both suspects were handcuffed but continued to kick at officers.

The suspects are now facing several charges, including assault and battery on a police officer, and in Zachary Lugo's case, attempting to disarm a police officer.

Zachary Lugo was at home Monday evening and confirmed it was him in the video, but declined to speak with NBC10 Boston.

The woman who shot the video, Worcester resident Britny Ly, said she has mixed feelings about what she witnessed.

"Both parties weren't innocent, but as a state official, as someone who works for the state, as a cop or whatever it is, especially the scrutiny that they're under, I feel like they shouldn't have used that much force," she said.

Meanwhile, Worcester residents are expressing shock after seeing the video.

"That's called police brutality, they have five policemen against one or two individuals and they ought to be taken to task," social worker Ann Roy said.

A Worcester resident named Vandetta said she didn't think the police officers' actions were warranted.

"You could kill somebody like that, and that's why people are retaliating with the police," she said.

"My understanding is their job is to restrain them, so what is punching somebody have to do with restraining?" Worcester resident James Rice asked.

David O'Laughlin, a certified expert on the use of police force, said the use of force is usually dictated by the party or parties in question.

"They resisted arrest,  yes, but they didn't deserve that, but they also shouldn't have resisted arrest," he said.

Attorneys for the Lugos could not be immediately identified. Both are due in court on Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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