Policing

Providence Police under fire for violent arrest caught on video

“Given the actions of these high-ranking officers, BLM RI PAC again calls for the full repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and for Captain Gencarella and Lt. Jennette to be placed on administrative leave pending this investigation.”

Published on July 6, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

The Black Lives Matter Rhode Island PAC released a statement in response to the July 3rd arrest of Armando Rivas by two Providence Police officers. In a video on GoLocalProv, an officer can be seen slamming the head of Rivas into the pavement.

Here’s the video from GoLocalProv:

https://youtu.be/R8oUy9ugJpw

The BLM RI PAC, in addition to demanding that the officers be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, once again called for the full repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR).

Over Independence Day weekend, Police Captain Steve Gencarella and Lt. Matthew Jennette of the Providence Police Department are seen on video using excessive force against 21-year-old Providence resident Armando Rivas,” wrote BLM RI PAC in a statement. “During an arrest they violently wrestled Rivas to the ground, forcibly restraining him, and at one point slamming his head into the pavement. Rivas was already in handcuffs and was not visibly resisting his arrest. In addition, Captain Gencarella can be seen on video using the same fatal knee restraint used by Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. Target 12 news reports that both Captain Gencarella and Lt. Jennette were in direct violation of Providence Police policy by being in uniform without their body-worn camera on and engaged. Despite their actions being brought to light, the two officers remain on duty. 

BLM RI PAC is incredibly disappointed and disheartened by the actions displayed by two high-ranking officers within the Providence Police Department, officers who set an example for their subordinates. Unfortunately, time and time again we see officers abusing their power, disproportionately affecting communities of color with little to no repercussions. Given the actions of these high-ranking officers, BLM RI PAC again calls for the full repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and for Captain Gencarella and Lt. Jennette to be placed on administrative leave pending this investigation.

GoLocalProv also learned that then officer Jennette was the subject of a successful lawsuit against the City of Providence in 2018 for conducting a “humiliating” cavity search. The city settled the suit for $18,000.

The Rhode Island Attorney General is investigating the incident.

The Providence Police Department rationalized the actions of the officers by releasing the police report, stating that Rivas was armed with a 1.5 inch serrated knife and refused to stop struggling. You can read the report here:


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