Rep. Joe Kennedy III defended his call for an independent investigation of an altercation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees and corrections officials at the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth on May 1.

“I wasn’t there,” Kennedy said during an interview with Boston Public Radio on Tuesday. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know that this shouldn’t happen. It can’t happen again. There needs to be some level of accountability.”

According to Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, the altercation erupted when multiple ICE detainees who were displaying symptoms of COVID-19 refused to be moved to another location for testing. The prisoners said they were concerned that being transported would risk exposure to the coronavirus which causes COVID-19. Hodgson claimed one detainee hit him with a chair causing violence to break out. The sheriff’s office later confirmed that pepper spray and dogs were also used. Lawyers for the detainees said that it was the correctional officers, not the detainees, who initiated the violence.

Following the incident, Kennedy called for an independent investigation in a Tweet posted on May 2. The call was met with pushback from Hodgson, who accused Kennedy of “playing politics” in an interview with the Boston Herald that same day. On Tuesday, Kennedy said his call is simply to better understand what happened during the altercation given the opposing views of the parties involved, and ensure that a similar incident does not happen in the future.

“A call for an investigation to ensure that we know exactly what happened, I think, is the minimal step that needs to take place,” Kennedy said. “I think [it’s] something that we need to do to ensure that everybody is protected going forward, and we don’t have something like this that happens again.”

Editor's Note: On Tuesday, Attorney General Maura Healey announced her office had launched an investigation into the incident, seeking surveillance video and other documents. A state senate committee also announced their own investigation on Tuesday.