Providence city council members said their city was being terrorized by ATVs and dirt bikes who were taking advantage of the police department’s “no chase” policy that forbade cops from engaging in high speed pursuits.
On Sunday, a video surfaced showing a Providence cop pursuing a man on a scooter before striking him with his patrol car, leaving the man critically injured.
Police say they were only trying to reclaim their town which has been getting swarmed with dozens of bikers who violate countless traffic laws since August.
But now they may have bigger problems on their hands because it is still not clear what the man did to merit getting struck by the patrol car.
The video shows Jhamal Gonsalves, 24, was making a right-hand turn with a cop following him when he was struck. Gonsalves was sent flying, landing on the sidewalk where several cops pounced on him.
One cop then threatened to arrest the man recording if he did not move to the sidewalk. That same cop then denied they struck Gonsalves with the car.
According to WJAR:
Scott Marshall said he watched the entire incident unfold.
“All the bikers and stuff were actually on both sides of the street. I mean where is that legal?” Marshall said. “And what happened was, is the cop came up the wrong side and cut over and completely hit the kid and knocked him into the sign.”
Black Lives Matter Rhode Island issued a statement, accusing police of “rampant and unchecked police brutality against Blacks in the city of Providence.”
“Police officer(s) from Providence Police Department intentionally and deliberately runs down and crashes a young African-American man on a scooter with their police truck in an apparent criminal excessive use of force and assault with a deadly weapon (police vehicle) knocking him unconscious and leading to his hospitalization at Rhode Island Hospital where he is currently being treated for life threatening injuries,” BLM RI wrote in an Instagram post.
Mayor Jorge Elorza was also at the scene.
“You have folks that want us to be more aggressive. But this is what happens when you’re more aggressive, accidents happen. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and figure out exactly what happened,” Elorza said.
The Providence Police Department has had a no pursuit policy in place since 2018 after they shot and killed an innocent man during a high-speed pursuit.
However, last month, city council members expressed a desire to get rid of the no chase policy in order to chase the bikers but it does not appear as if they voted on it.
According to Go Local Prov.
On August 20, GoLocal reported that some members of the Providence City Council were calling on Elorza to revisit the city’s “no chase” policy for police as it pertains to illegal ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets.
The call came following a weekend which saw accidents send people to the hospital, after groups of over a hundred off-road vehicles roamed the city streets — and Rhode Island State Police arrested a rider after the hordes of drivers shut down the highway.
“They come here because they know — it’s no secret — that Providence Police won’t pursue you and they know that and that’s why they ride in packs and terrorize the streets, and over this past weekend they even surrounded a police vehicle,” said Councilman Michael Correia.
“The word is out. It’s going to continue. I don’t understand how the Rhode Island State Police were able to make an arrest on the highway — they went after the individual — but Providence can’t. I don’t know the other cities and towns chase policy,” said Correia.
Watch the edited video above or the full video here.