PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The investigation continues into whether a Providence officer hit and critically injured a 24-year-old man riding a moped with his cruiser over the weekend.
Providence Public Safety Commission Steven Paré released two new videos leading up to the crash during a briefing Wednesday, but said there is still no video evidence that clearly shows cruiser hitting the victim, identified by family members as Jhamal Gonsalves.
Gonsalves 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.
The first video, taken by a witness on Elmwood Avenue, shows Gonsalves take an abrupt right turn, prior to losing control of his moped and slamming into a building. Prior to the crash, it appears the officer, identified by police as Kyle Endres, was following Gonsalves.
The second video was security footage from a camera located on Bissell Street facing Elmwood Avenue. In the footage, Gonsalves is seen making the right-hand turn onto Bissell Street, followed by the cruiser. The video showed the cruiser hitting and taking down a stop sign, but did not reveal whether Endres hit Gonsalves before he crashed.
Paré said while the two videos are helpful, neither show definitively what caused Gonsalves injuries.
“We don’t have a lot of answers,” Paré said. “The focus continues to be how Jhamal was injured as a result of the crash.”
As the investigation continues, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza asked any additional witnesses to come forward with new footage of the crash, adding that it would be “tremendously helpful.”
Elorza said body camera footage of officers who responded to the scene will be released as soon as they are redacted where appropriate. At least check, he said it could take up to two weeks for those videos to be ready.
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.
The Attorney General’s office, as well as the Rhode Island State Police, will also conduct their own independent reviews of the incident to ensure transparency.
Elorza said that his role right now is to “ensure that there is a full, fair, honest and transparent investigation” into what happened.
“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’s focus on a thorough, complete, and transparent investigation. That’s what we are absolutely committed to.”
Gonsalves’ family tells 12 News he remains hospitalized and in a coma.
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. People were also seen throwing bricks, water bottles and rocks at the officers.
Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said five officers were hit by projectiles. One of those officers, he said, was transported to the hospital with a “concussion-type injury.”
Clements said that officer is expected to be OK, and his helmet saved him from a much more serious injury.
Twenty-one people were arrested, Clements said, including 16 men, five women and one juvenile. Most of the arrests, he said, occurred after 10:30 p.m. after the crowd had thinned out.
The charges range from disorderly conduct and resisting arrest to unlawfully lighting off fireworks. Clements said nine of the 21 people who were arrested are from Providence.
Gov. Gina Raimondo addressed the violence during her weekly coronavirus briefing Wednesday afternoon.
“Violence is never acceptable,” she said. “Thank you to the Providence Police who, I thought, did a fantastic job last night under enormously difficult circumstances.”
Jose Batista, the executive director of the Providence External Review Board (PERA), said they will be reviewing everything that unfolded, but added that they can only monitor the investigation being conducted by the city’s police department.
“We can simply review documents when the police department chooses, how the police department chooses and they ultimately have the discretion of what to show us and what to not show us,” he explained.