PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The father of a man who was critically injured in an officer-involved moped crash over the weekend is pleading for answers from authorities as to why his son appeared to be targeted.
Jhamal Gonsalves, 24, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition Sunday night immediately following the crash, which occurred as officers were attempting to reel in hundreds of off-road vehicles that took to the city streets.
“My son is in a coma with tubes hanging out of his head,” his father Mark Gonsalves said. “He doesn’t deserve this.”
The officer involved, identified by police as Kyle Endres, appeared to be following Jhamal down Elmwood Avenue prior to the crash.
Cell phone video from a witness shows Jhamal take an abrupt right turn before losing control of his moped and slamming into a building.
It’s still unclear at this time whether Endres actually hit Jhamal with his cruiser.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said right now, there is still no video evidence that clearly shows cruiser hitting Jhamal.
“We don’t have a lot of answers,” Paré said. “The focus continues to be on how Jhamal was injured as a result of the crash.”
Endres, a six-year veteran of the force, has since been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation, which is being primarily conducted by the Providence Police Department.
Mark believes Endres was breaking the law by following close behind his son.
“I want justice,” he said. “I want criminal justice.”
Hundreds of people gathered less than two miles from the crash site Tuesday night to rally behind Gonsalves. The group ultimately marched to the Providence Public Safety Complex, where they were met by dozens of officers in riot gear.
While a majority of the crowd dispersed within an hour or so, a smaller group stayed behind and began lighting off fireworks in close proximity to the officers who were holding the line.
Police said overall, 21 people were arrested and are facing charges ranging from disorderly conduct and resisting arrest to unlawfully lighting off fireworks.
Jhamal’s family attended the rally, but left long before the it devolved into chaos.
His mother, Tia Tribble, said while they are thankful for the support from the community, they do not condone the violence that occurred Tuesday night, nor do they want it to be associated with Jhamal’s name.
To counter the violence that occurred Tuesday night, Mark said he plans to stand outside the Attorney General’s office at 2 p.m. each day until the investigation is completed.
“I don’t need a stand off with officers and tactical gear and stuff,” he said. “That’s why I came out here by myself.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Jorge Elorza is promising a transparent and thorough investigation.
“I know that emotions are running high. There’s a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of anger and distrust,” Elorza said. “But I urge all of our residents here in the City of Providence to please withhold judgment on exactly what happened and let us focus on a thorough, complete and transparent investigation.”