Providence, RI – Providence police and the Rhode Island attorney general are investigating a video of an arrest by Providence police over 4th of July weekend that showed an official smashing a suspect’s head into the pavement (video below).
The incident occurred at about 9:47 p.m. on July 3 after the fireworks ended at India Point Park, the Boston Globe reported.
Providence police said a man – later identified as 21-year-old Armando Rivas – had left his Jeep Cherokee unattended and blocking the travel lane of an access road to Route 195 West as officers tried to clear the area after the event.
The police report said that Providence Police Lieutenant Matthew Jennette, a 17-year veteran of the police force, gave the driver a 10-minute grace period and then told a tow truck to remove the offending vehicle, the Providence Journal reported.
That was when Rivas returned to his vehicle, according to the police report.
Lt. Jennette advised him that his vehicle was being towed and Rivas ran around the vehicle and jumped into it through the passenger side, the Providence Journal reported.
When the lieutenant told Rivas to get out of his vehicle, police said the suspect pushed Lt. Jennette’s arm away and unleashed a torrent of profanities at him.
Lt. Jennette told Rivas he was under arrest and took hold of Rivas’ left arm, the Boston Globe reported.
The police report said Rivas ““flailed wildly, attempting to break free.”
That was when Providence Police Captain Stephen Gencarella jumped into the fray to assist Lt. Jennette.
Police said Rivas flailed, kicked, and punched at the officers, the Boston Globe reported.
The police report said that Capt. Gencarella, a 25-year veteran of the police force, struck Rivas in the head and stunned the suspect enough for Lt. Jennette to get a handcuff on his right hand.
Then the video showed Capt. Gencarella and Rivas both fell to the ground as the suspect continued to struggle and resist being arrested.
The video showed Rivas continued to squirm and fight and Lt. Jennette joined Capt. Gencarella on the ground as he tried to subdue the suspect.
Both the lieutenant and the captain struggled to get Rivas’ right hand into a handcuff and pinned him to the pavement to gain control as he continued to fight them, the video showed.
Once the suspect was in handcuffs, the video showed Lt. Jennette grabbed his radio and began talking into it.
That was when the video showed Capt. Gencarella reached forward and grabbed Rivas by the hair.
The video showed the police captain pulled the suspect’s head up off the pavement and then smashed it back down, planting his face on the roadway.
Police said that during the struggle, Rivas repeatedly tried to reach for his waistband, WPRI reported.
“During this struggle Rivas continually attempted to reach towards his waistband area despite loud verbal commands to comply; this continued when he was on the ground,” the police report read.
After Rivas had been detained, police searched him and found “M Tech” one-and-a-half inch serrated knife that was clipped inside the waistband, the Boston Globe reported.
His vehicle was towed from the scene.
The unregistered Jeep Cherokee had a broken window and matched the description of a suspect vehicle at a disturbance on the city’s West End, the Boston Globe reported.
Rivas was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstructing an officer, and two counts of simple assault.
He pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to one year of probation, according to WPRI.
The city said there is no bodycam footage of Rivas’ arrest because Capt. Gencarella wasn’t issued a bodycam and Lt. Jennette didn’t activate his.
The Providence Police Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility has launched an investigation into the incident and allegations of excessive force by the officers, the Boston Globe reported.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office said it has also joined the investigation.
The Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee (PAC) released a statement calling for the officers to be placed on leave, the Providence Journal reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: