PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two officers reportedly found themselves surrounded by dirt bike riders in Providence Sunday afternoon, 12 News has learned.
The officers were patrolling near Potters Avenue when they noticed two dirt bike riders driving recklessly down the street.
Police said the officers followed the dirt bike riders to an industrial park on Dupont Drive, where nearly 30 other riders were congregated.
The dirt bike riders scattered as the officers tried to approach, according to police, though one man had trouble kick-starting his bike.
The man dropped his dirt bike and took off running as the officers closed in, according to police.
The officers chased the man, later identified by police as 28-year-old Alexander Encarnacion, and ended up wrestling him to the ground.
Police said Encarnacion resisted arrest and kept one of his arms pinned underneath his body. The officers struggled with Encarnacion for several minutes before the dirt bike riders reportedly returned and began aggressively driving at them, according to police.
Both officers reported that the riders were taunting them while they were trying to handcuff Encarnacion.
In an effort to get them to stop, police said one of the officers drew his weapon and loudly warned the riders. The riders dispersed after that, according to police, and the officer rejoined the struggle with Encarnacion.
Police said at one point, it appeared Encarnacion was attempting to reach or conceal a possible weapon. The officers were eventually able to subdue Encarnacion once backup arrived.
It was later determined that Encarnacion was riding a dirt bike that had been reported stolen out of Woonsocket.
Encarnacion has been charged with resisting arrest, obstructing an officer and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
The incident comes less than a week after two people were killed in a dirt bike crash over the line in Cranston.
Providence Mayor Brett Smiley said both officers followed protocol and that he supports their actions.
“We know that these unregistered dirt bike riders are putting themselves at risk,” Smiley said. “It’s very sad.”
12 News has learned the officer who pulled out his weapon was also involved in a moped crash that critically wounded a Providence man two years ago.
Smiley said illegal riding is a huge problem in the capital city, adding that he’s made addressing it a top priority.
“It’s really degrading the quality of life in our city,” he said. “We know this kind of activity picks up as the weather gets warmer, so we’re going to be prepared with a new strategy.”
Smiley didn’t elaborate on what that strategy entails, but said he will be detailing the city’s efforts to combat illegal riding soon.
“This is a difficult issue,” he said. “We’re always going to be trying to balance both neighborhood safety and the safety of the riders. We don’t want them to get harmed either.”
Smiley believes the illegal activity isn’t necessarily due to a lack of places to ride.
“The notion of riding recklessly and lawlessly through city streets is part of the appeal,” Smiley said. “I don’t know that a safe, off-road track is actually what they’re looking for.”
“For those who want to [ride] safely, that’s where they should go,” he continued. “But on the city streets where they’re illegal … we’re going to be vigilant about it.”
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