Man handcuffed by Providence officers died from ‘toxic’ drug effects, medical examiner concludes


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The state medical examiner’s office has determined what caused the death of a man who was handcuffed by officers in Providence earlier this year.

Joseph Ventre, 34, of Warwick, died back in May after what was described as a “minor struggle” with officers in a field off Collyer Street. The Providence Police Department released body camera footage of the ordeal soon after it happened and launched an investigation into Ventre’s death.

Ventre, who was handcuffed after he was found by officers screaming and rolling in the grass, died “due to the combined toxic effects of methamphetamine and methadone during police restraint,” according to R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken.

Police claimed the reason for handcuffing Ventre was to prevent him from hurting himself or others as he was being transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Per the state’s use-of-force protocol, the R.I. Attorney General’s office and Rhode Island State Police are investigating the incident alongside Providence Police.

Blake Collins, a spokesperson for the R.I. Attorney General’s office, tells 12 News their review of the incident is ongoing and they will release the results of their investigation once it’s completed.

This comes as the Providence Police Department deals with the fallout from the recently released body camera footage of an incident last month involving three teenagers.

Throughout the more than eight hours of body camera video released, officers were seen punching and spitting at the suspects while taking them into custody.

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