Westerly, RI - In the early morning hours of June 9, three Westerly police officers arrested Ryan O'Loughlin of Mystic after a disturbance outside a downtown wine bar.

The officers said they pepper-sprayed and struck the 34-year-old Navy veteran in the legs with a baton after he refused to put his hands behind his back.

Later in the day, O'Loughlin posted bond and returned home. Late that afternoon, he began vomiting, and his wife took him to the Pequot Health Center in Groton where he died 16 hours after his arrest. For the past three months, O'Loughlin's family has waited for the Connecticut medical examiner to determine how he died.

On Tuesday, his widow, parents and sister stood behind their attorney Mark Dana as he announced that the autopsy report shows O'Loughlin was the victim of homicide.

During a news conference in his Providence office, Mark Dana said O'Loughlin sustained 12 separate injuries to his head, chest, abdomen and legs during his arrest, including the lacerated liver that caused him to bleed to death.

"In short, Ryan was beaten to death," he said.

Dana criticized former Westerly Police Chief Edward Mello for publicly saying a few days after O'Loughlin died that his death was not the result of excessive force.

"We felt at the time that was irresponsible, and in light of this report it was factually incorrect," Dana said, adding that Mello's statement now seems "ludicrous."

"He made statements to protect his officers instead of finding out what happened," he said.

Mello retired this month and is now police chief in Jamestown, R.I. Capt. Edward St. Clair is in charge of the Westerly department. He and the three officers involved in the arrest did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Dana said that Rhode Island State Police and the Rhode Island Attorney General's Office are investigating O'Loughlin's death, and that he expects a grand jury to be convened to determine if charges should be filed against the three officers.

"I hope they look at this as a manslaughter case. The fact they were wearing (police) uniforms shouldn't give them a free pass," he said.

Read More: http://www.theday.com/article/201109...929/1070/SPORT