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PERA calls for an independent review of police-moped impact



While the facts of the collision on Elmwood Avenue remain under investigation, one thing is clear: PERA must be a part of this investigation from the beginning.

The Providence External Review Authority (PERA) is calling for an independent review of the ongoing investigation regarding the October 18 collision that took place on Elmwood Avenue in the City of Providence.

According to city officials there is an active investigation into the events that led to the hospitalization of Jhamal Gonsalves after an “impact” with a Providence Police vehicle driven by Officer Kyle Endres, though Chief Hugh Clements maintains that whether a police car impacted with the moped has yet to be determined.

PERA Executive Director Jose Batista has spoken to the leadership of the Providence Police Department and Providence City Council on Monday afternoon and stated the following with regard to the October 18 incident:

“While the facts of the collision on Elmwood Avenue remain under investigation, one thing is clear: PERA must be a part of this investigation from the beginning.”

Subsection (h)(2) of Chapter 18 ½ – 2 of the Providence Code of Ordinances gives PERA the authority to “[m]onitor any investigation by the police department as to which the executive director believes is in the city’s best interest for PERA to be involved.”

The next PERA board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday October 21, 2020 at 5pm. The board meeting will take place virtually and will be open to the public.

“PERA has a role in review, their role would be for review,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré at the Monday afternoon press conference covering the event. “We are actively investigating, administratively, so when we have reports and when we can share reports with PERA, we certainly would do that.”

When you “ask for an independent third party, there’s only one party in the state that can do that and that’s my office,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, attending the same press conference. “PERA can’t do that, no one else can do it. The US Attorney could do it… under certain circumstances if they chose. What my office is here to do is to get all the facts so we can make that analysis. Whether or not there are administrative remedies that might be appropriate is something for the [Providence Police Department] to determine internally and from where I stand, that’s PERA’s role.”

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As for the investigation, the Providence Police Department is still collecting video and witness statements. They expect the initial recreation of the incident to take at least two weeks and the full investigation to take months. Both the Rhode Island Attorney General and State Police will be collaborating on that effort, said Commissioner Paré. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza added that if a federal investigation is undertaken the city would welcome that as well.

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.