Providence, RI – The executive director of the Providence police civilian oversight board has taken it upon himself to release bodycam and witness footage of an arrest that resulted in a police sergeant being charged with assault (videos below).
Providence External Review Authority (PERA) Executive Director Jose Batista released the footage on Tuesday, despite the panel’s vote not to do so, WJAR reported.
The city and state also opposed the video releases.
Batista, who was recently elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives, said he doesn’t care if he gets fired for going against the PERA’s decision, WJAR reported.
“The people have a right to know how they are being policed and what happens as a consequence,” he said.
Providence Police Union (PPU) President Michael Imondi said that Batista’s one-man decision to release the videos not only jeopardized the sergeant’s right to a fair trial, but it also potentially made it more difficult for the “complainant to have his complaint properly adjudicated,” The Providence Journal reported.
The PPU further alleged that Batista’s action “clearly demonstrates how PERA…fails to act as and remain a neutral, independent review board of Providence Police conduct,” according to WJAR.
Imondi told The Providence Journal that Batista “clearly overstepped and violated his duties and role as the executive director of PERA, and should be immediately removed from his position.”
The footage captured the April 19 encounter between Providence police and 28-year-old Rishod Gore, The Providence Journal reported.
Officers had responded to 77 Knight Street due to a report of a domestic dispute, where they arrested 28-year-old Markese Davis for allegedly resisting arrest, according to WJAR.
Police said Gore was present while Davis was being placed in a patrol car.
Once Davis was secured, officers walked down the street to the passenger side of a vehicle where Gore was sitting and ordered him to get out of the car, the heavily-pixelated bodycam footage showed.
The events that preceded the officers’ decision to make contact with Gore have not been disclosed, and were not included in the footage Batista released.
Gore refused to get out of the car and pulled away from the officers as they tried to forcibly remove him, the bodycam footage showed.
A female in the driver’s seat repeatedly screamed at the officers to stop trying to arrest him.
Police finally managed to yank Gore out of the car and onto the pavement, where he initially ignored their repeated commands to roll onto his stomach and place his hands behind his back, the video showed.
A witness recording Gore’s arrest from above the fray captured the moment when one of the officers appeared to kick the suspect in the head and ribs after he was handcuffed.
The videos showed the officer pinning Gore to the ground with his knee on the suspect’s upper back or lower neck and delivering a blow to the side of his torso at one point.
The Providence Police Department (PPD) consulted with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office after Gore’s arrest and determined the officer who struck Gore would be charged with misdemeanor assault, WJAR reported.
The officer has been identified as PPD Sergeant Joseph Hanley.
Sgt. Hanley was placed on unpaid administrative leave after being charged in May.
He has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor assault charge, and his case is still pending, according to The Providence Journal.
Gore was originally arrested on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but both counts have been dismissed, WJAR reported.
He has also collected a $50,000 settlement from the city, according to The Providence Journal.
“Mr. Gore is eager to put this horrific incident behind him,” attorney Georgi Vogel-Rosen told the paper. “He has resolved his legal claims with the city and looks forward to moving on with his life. He has no additional statement to make at this time.”
The State Attorney General’s Office said it has asked the state Supreme Court ethics advisory panel for guidance regarding the potential release of bodycam footage prior to a trial, The Providence Journal reported.
The PERA has not yet determined what consequences, if any, Batista might face for releasing the footage after the board voted not to do so.
Batista, a former public defender, won the Democratic primary in September and ran unopposed in the general election, The Providence Journal reported.
Sgt. Hanley’s attorney declined to comment on the video release, according to the paper.
Watch the incident unfold in the videos below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language: