PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence police officer involved in a crash that put a moped rider in a coma will not face charges, Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Thursday as he laid out the results of a months-long investigation conducted by his office and Rhode Island State Police.
While the criminal case may now be closed, the family of Jhamal Gonsalves still plans to seek out justice any way they can.
Gonsalves, 24, was critically injured in the Oct. 18 crash at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Bissell Street. It occurred as Officer Kyle Endres trailed behind a large group of moped, ATV and bike riders cruising through the city.
Neronha said investigators were looking to determine whether Endres was driving recklessly prior to hitting a stop sign that came down onto Gonsalves’ head. He was wearing a helmet but suffered a severe head injury.
The investigation determined that Endres’ cruiser didn’t collide with Gonsalves’ moped and the evidence showed he was trying to avoid a crash, according to Neronha. As such, he said his office and state police found the officers’ actions didn’t rise to the criminal level of recklessness behind the wheel.
“Frankly, there is no evidence to build an even more challenging case that Officer Endres intended to cause harm here,” Neronha said. “The evidence does not support that.”
Neronha did, however, note there may have been negligence, which could be the subject of a civil lawsuit, which Gonsalves’ family plans to file next week.
“We want the ones guilty to be liable,” said Jhamal’s father, Mark Gonsalves.
The family and their attorney, Jude Kerrison, announced their intentions about an hour after Neronha’s news conference. They expressed frustration with the outcome, saying they believe Officer Endres caused the collision and is responsible for Jhamal’s injuries.
“This is all on the negligence of these officers,” Mark Gonsalves said. “And the care falls on the negligence of the city and state because they put these officers … they gave them their jobs.”
“From our perspective, they are responsible for what happened so even though they can’t be criminally charged, they are civilly responsible and will be held as such,” Kerrison said.
Jhamal is currently at a rehabilitation facility in New Jersey where they’re working to wake him up from his coma, according to the family. Although his condition has slightly improved, the distance between him and his loved ones is making the situation all the more difficult.
The family said they’re seeking monetary damages as they struggle to keep up with mounting medical bills.
“He is making improvements but he has a traumatic brain injury, and we don’t even know, we may need to take him home next week because my insurance does not want to pay for it,” said Jhamal’s mother, Tia Tribble.
A family friend told 12 News they plan to organize a fundraiser for Jhamal in the near future.