PROVIDENCE -- Five body-camera videos released by the Providence police Monday show the immediate aftermath of the crash that critically injured a moped rider, but don’t show the cause.
The outstanding question, still under investigation with the attorney general’s office and state police, is whether Providence Patrolman Kyle Endres intentionally rammed his cruiser into the 24-year-old rider while pursuing him on Oct. 18.
“Helpful as independent evidence as to the scene and the actions of our police officers,” Public Safety Commissioner Steven M. Paré said of the newly released videos at a news conference Monday, “but it doesn’t provide what we’re all looking for.”
The incident has sparked violent protests in the city that have left civilians and police officers injured and led to more than two dozen arrests. Endres is on administrative duty during the investigation. The moped rider, Jhamal Gonsalves, a Middletown resident, remains in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital.
On Monday, his parents said that Gonsalves has squeezed their hands and opened his eyes, and is no longer in a medically induced coma. “It’s small, but it’s a start for what we’re praying is a recovery," said his father, Mark Gonsalves Jr.
The police and attorney general’s office showed them the body-camera videos on Sunday, before releasing the footage to the public.
“The footage was upsetting and extremely difficult for them. For anyone to see a loved one in that condition would be traumatic,” Jude Kerrison, the lawyer for the Gonsalves family, said during a news conference Monday.
While the videos didn’t answer their questions about what led to the crash, Kerrison said the family is confident the answers would come. Outrage over the crash sparked days of protests, and Kerrison said the family is asking the public to show restraint
“The family has consistently asked that any public demonstration be peaceful ... and that any and all demonstrations be done during the day and be concluded before dark,” he said.
“The police department and the attorney general’s office have been accommodating and cooperative, and we are still faithful that all relevant information will be revealed,” Kerrison said, standing with members of Gonsalves’ family, who were wearing “Justice for Jhamal” shirts, outside the Garrahy Judicial Complex. “The family wants these questions answered more than anyone, but they are being patient. We ask the public to be patient as well.”
Kerrison said that the family is seeking any photos, videos, and or witnesses to the crash, and sharing turning the information with to the attorney general’s office. He said they had confidence in the investigation.
Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. said the investigation is focusing on how Gonsalves was injured and will also take into account how officers responded to the crash. He and Paré urged witnesses to come forward with information or videos that showed the scene.
So far, he said, they did not have any videos of the moment of impact. The accident reconstruction investigation is ongoing.
Gonsalves was one of hundreds of off-road bikers, moped drivers, and ATV riders participating in a “ride-out” that filled city streets on Oct. 18. Police officers, including Endres, followed the packs in their cruisers.
Two videos released by the police last week showed Gonsalves riding on Elmwood Avenue, followed closely by police, before making a sharp turn onto Bissell Street, where the crash occurred.
The body-camera videos released Monday showed multiple officers responding to the crash. There’s no audio for the first 30 seconds of the body-cam videos; the audio begins recording when officers turn on the cameras, while the video captures what happens in the 30 seconds before the camera is activated.
One video appears to be from Endres' body camera. The first few seconds show the view inside the cruiser, with Endres driving down Elmwood, reaching for the radio, and then suddenly grabbing the steering wheel with both hands and turning it quickly. He runs out of the cruiser to Gonsalves and pulls one of his arms, as two other officers lift the moped off Gonsalves’ body. A stop sign lies on the ground, its post severed.
The other videos show the perspective of four other officers, and the confusion as additional officers arrived and tried to figure out what happened.
One said, “He hit the stop sign.” An officer felt Gonsalves' neck for his pulse.
“Rescue’s coming for you,” he said to Gonsalves, who didn’t respond. Other motorbikes roared by on Elmwood.
“Squeeze this if you can hear me,” one said.
Gonsalves' breathing was labored and he sounded as if he was spitting. One officer wondered if he was overdosing. They turned him to his side and administered Narcan, though one said he wasn’t sure how to use it.
One tried to adjust Gonsalves' helmet, before another officer told him not to move it.
“Don’t take his helmet off if he has a head injury. Don’t touch his neck, don’t touch his head, don’t touch any of that,” said one officer. “If anything, he’s having a seizure from his head injury, if he’s spitting out of his mouth."
A bystander recorded the police on his cell phone. Two other officers had yelled at him to stand on the sidewalk, but when a third asked him to have respect for Gonsalves and not record his body, the man responded that the police should have respect for the biker.
The bystander told the officer that he had seen and recorded what happened, and said the police had hit the biker. The officer then told a sergeant what the bystander said to him. (The video, later released on social media and by police, pans away for a split second and does not show the moment of impact.)
The body camera videos showed the officers pacing around the scene, walking to the corner of Elmwood Avenue looking for the ambulance as Gonsalves' breathing became more labored.
Dispatcher asked over the radio, “Rescue’s not on scene?”
“Negative,” an officer responded. “Have them step it up.”