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Protests erupt in Rhode Island over moped crash involving police car

Protests erupt in Rhode Island over moped crash involving police car
© Getty Images

Protesters have taken to the streets of Providence, R.I., this week after a police cruiser on Sunday afternoon allegedly hit a moped to stop its movement, critically injuring the rider.

Video of the incident shows Jhamal Gonsalves, 24, riding on a black moped, with a police cruiser following behind. Gonsalves and the cruiser both make a right turn out of the frame of the video. A loud crashing sound can then be heard, and the footage pivots, revealing Gonsalves lying next the moped next to the side of a house, the cruiser stopped behind.

“Yo, they just f---ing crashed him,” the person recording the incident can be heard saying.

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Prior to the crash, Gonsalves was reportedly riding with a group of roughly 300 people on motorbikes and ATVs through the city.

“We had a terrible incident in our city tonight that left a young man severely injured — we hope he will make a full recovery," Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza (D) said in a statement Sunday. “Our police are actively reviewing all video evidence, talking to witnesses, and recreating the scene. We will be doing a full investigation and will continue to communicate as the investigation unfolds.”

The officer who was driving the cruiser has been placed on administrative desk duty. Gonsalves remains in critical condition.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said in a news conference Wednesday that it was still unclear whether the police car hit Gonsalves.

"We need to let the accident reconstruction team give us the evidence and then make a determination," Pare said, NBC News reported.

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Elorza at the press conference said that body camera footage would be released as soon as it’s ready to be made public.

On Tuesday, residents — angry over potential police brutality — flocked to the streets to voice their discontent.

Elorza said the largely peaceful protests became "much more aggressive" during the night, leading to the arrests of more than 20.

"This is an incident where I know that emotions are running high, there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of anger and distrust, and what I urge all of our residents here in the city of Providence is to please withhold judgment on exactly what happened and let's focus on a thorough, complete, transparent investigation," Elorza said. "We're going to let the facts lead us to wherever they may."