PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A man claims he lost his eye after a Providence officer shot him with what the city’s police department has dubbed a “less-lethal” projectile.
The incident occurred during the early morning hours of June 2 when hundreds of people converged in front of the Providence Place Mall.
A 29-year-old man, who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation, said he was driving when he saw multiple officers chasing someone. The victim’s wife, who was in the passenger’s seat, shot video on her cell phone.
In the video, an officer can be seen turning and apparently pointing a device toward their car. The woman claims the officer shot a projectile, which she said hit her husband in the face.
After realizing her husband had been injured, she said she took control of the vehicle and immediately drove him to the hospital.
“If I would have waited any longer, the doctors told me he could have died right there in downtown,” she said.
The victim’s wife said he had to have his eye surgically removed because the injury was so severe. She also said he needed facial reconstructive surgery.
Over the weekend, Eyewitness News reached out to the state’s top hospital group Lifespan, which confirmed that a patient with the same name and age as the victim was listed in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital.
Eyewitness News also reached out to Providence Police Department about the couple’s claims.
Spokesperson Lindsay Lague said Monday: “The Providence Police Department confirms that there is an active investigation into an incident that occurred amongst the chaos and mayhem that transpired during the destructive events within our city early Tuesday morning,” Lague wrote in an email. “Per protocol, the officer involved, a 13-year member of the force, has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of this investigation.”
“We confirm that this investigation involves the use of a less-lethal device. There is an adult male victim being treated at RIH as a result of this incident,” she added. “No further information is available at this time.”
As part of the investigation, Lague also said the department is reviewing body cam footage from that night.
The victim, who spoke with Eyewitness News by phone from the hospital, said he and his wife were just driving home when they came upon the riot.
“Look at me, I wasn’t even a part of it and I got hit,” he said.