In November 2023, two filings were made in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island stemming from the same events by Joshua Mello, whose story has been previously covered by the Current. Mello alleges that his constitutional rights were violated in criminal proceedings ruling on a 2021 arrest where he was found guilty of disorderly conduct and carrying prohibited weapons other than a firearm. The claims made by Mello are being denied by the defendants, school officials and police officers, who have also called for the case to be dismissed.
In the memorandum in support of defendants’ partial motion to dismiss, the defendants argue, “Plaintiff, Joshua Mello (“Plaintiff Mello”) having been convicted in the Rhode Island District Court, filed this complaint on November 15, 2023, alleging constitutional violations during the proceedings of his trial, i.e. everybody who testified against him at trial lied to the Court. The complaint does not state that Plaintiff Mello prevailed on appeal or at a post- conviction relief hearing or any other post-trial vehicles that would call into question his conviction. Consequently, his claims regarding his criminal trial must be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”
Mello asserts that personnel at George Peters Elementary School wrongly excluded him from his daughter’s emergency care card, preventing him from picking her up on September 6, 2019. This situation subsequently escalated, resulting in a confrontation with Cranston police, during which Mello claims he was assaulted before being apprehended. Mello argues that there was no legal basis for the removal of his name from the care card. The Cranston School District has refused to investigate the matter. The incident in 2019 allegedly left Mello with a PTSD condition.
He claims that the events in 2019 contributed to another incident on October 21, 2021, the subject of the lawsuit, at Western Hills Middle School. He claims he was once again prevented from meeting his child on school premises. Although Mello shared a court judgment with The Ocean State Current, confirming his authorization to see his child, he claims he did not have the document readily available during the 2021 incident.
Mello was charged with a series of crimes from the 2021 incident. Cranston’s policy on visitor access to school buildings, last amended in 2013, requires a parent or guardian entering a school in order to pick up or drop off a child to communicate with the main office prior to arriving at the school. The policy warns that any visitor who fails to do so may be denied entry into the building. Upon arrival, visitors are required to go directly to the main office in order to sign in. Failure to so say, per the policy, “may result in removal from the building.”
Mello, representing himself in the lawsuits, claims severe harm has been done to him, “The immeasurable pain and suffering, coupled with the emotional distress resulting from the continual deprivation and neglect of my rights, weighs heavily on my well-being. False accusations propagated within the local community have led to the brink of closure for my small family business. Additionally, the unlawful arrest at my daughter’s middle school has left me without a stable living situation…”
Mello also alleges excessive force was used against him during his arrest. The claim has been denied by the Cranston Police defendants.
Mello seeks different amounts in the lawsuits from different defendants including $8 million and $6 million in damages, plus potentially other monetary or forms of redress.