Noting that Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha’s legal analysis of the facts surrounding the police cruiser collision that caused severe injuries to 24 year old Jhamal Gonsalves last October found no reason to bring criminal charges against the officers involved, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza told reporters at a Friday morning press conference “that’s not the end of the story.”
In addition to the investigation into potential criminal charges by the Attorney General and the Rhode Island State Police, the Providence Police Department under Mayor Elorza was doing an investigation into the possibility of bringing administrative charges against the officers involved.
Though the Mayor and police leadership could share some parts of the administrative actions being taken against the officers, due to the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), “there are some small aspects of this which we are not able to discuss.” Elorza added that he hopes the Rhode Island General Assembly will make changes to LEOBoR to allow greater transparency.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said that Officer Kyle Endres, who drove the police cruiser that hit the stop sign that cause Jhamal Gonsalves serious head injury has been hit with “summary punishment.”
Officer Endres received a total of two days suspension for his part in the incident, and will receive some retraining:
- Not wearing a seatbelt, for which he was suspended one day;
- Not driving his vehicle in a safe manner, for which he was suspended one day; and
- Being involved in an unpreventable accident, and as a result he will be retrained in emergency vehicle operation.
Other officers were also disciplined:
- Officer Colleen Cabral failed to use her body cam, for which she will be counseled, as it is a first offense.
- Officer Luis Ferreras failed to use his body cam, for which he will be counseled, as it is a first offense.
- Officer Alex Dias failed to use his body cam, for which he will be counseled, as it is a first offense.
- Officer Brendan McKenna and all officers will receive training in the proper use of Narcan.
- Two officers who were interacting with a witness on the sidewalk videoing the event will also be disciplined, but the Department has not completed that part of the investigation yet. Though LEOBoR prevented the Commissioner from commenting on the specifics of the investigation, those two officers will be held accountable and retrained.
Commissioner Paré said that when Officer Endres pulled on Jhamal Gonsalves arm, it was done to pull the injured man away from the still running moped. Commissioner Paré said that he believes there was no malicious intent in Officer Endres action.
Under questioning from the invited press, Paré made it clear that the Department concluded that Officer Endres was not in violation of the pursuit policy, because there was no pursuit. Officer Endres, said Paré, was following Gonsalves, but not pursuing him, despite his radio call to “box” Gonsalves in.
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“I recognize the mismatch here,” said Mayor Elorza. “I understand we have this horrible consequence where a young man is in a hospital bed trying to recover… At the same time, when it comes to our analysis, we have to allow the facts to lead us to where they may and apply that legal or administrative standard. I believe the Attorney General did a very thorough and professional job, and I believe our internal team did a thorough and professional job.”