Two Providence police officers were suspended with pay this week for their involvement in the July 9th arrest of three teenagers following a car chase through the city. The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office has opened a criminal investigation into questions of possible excessive use of force by officers during the arrest of the individuals.

Both Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré and Mayor Jorge Elorza told reporters Thursday they had reviewed body-worn camera footage of the incident. 

“I'm not going to describe the force,” Paré said. “But I saw excessive use of force in some of the body cams that is both troubling and appalling.” 

“I reviewed the video and it is appalling. It's beyond upsetting,” Elorza said. “I fully support the suspension of these two officers taking their guns away, taking them off the streets and holding them accountable. We have high standards as a police department. And we're gonna make sure that we meet those high standards. And when folks fall short of it, they're going to be held accountable.” 

According to a police report released by the city this week, officers on July 8 responded to the sound of shots fired near Manton Ave, when they began a high speed chase pursuing a BMW believed to be carrying the suspects. During the pursuit, police allege an occupant in the car pointed a gun at police. The vehicle crashed into a fire hydrant, after which the three individuals were arrested in the early morning hours on July 9th. 

According to the Providence advocacy nonprofit Direct Action for Rights and Equality, or DARE, one of the individuals remains held at the Rhode Island training school.

Police recovered two BB-guns from the BMW. One person inside the car was brought to Hasbro Children's Hospital, “for injuries he sustained from the collision,” according to the police report. 

“It came to our attention on Sunday, after the arrest, that there were injuries, as a result of not only the crash, but some use of force that was used by police officers,” said Paré on Thursday. 

Late last week, the Providence police called on the Attorney General’s office last week to begin what is now a criminal investigation by the AG and state police, as well an administrative review by Providence law enforcement.

According to social media posts by DARE, families of the teenagers told the local social justice and housing nonprofit that the three were beaten by officers during the arrest.

Cops reported that three minors were injured in a car accident after a police chase. We learned from their families that police viciously beat all three boys until unconscious,” the organization posted to its Facebook page, adding that bystanders believed one of the individuals had died amid the alleged altercation.

Paré said the city will not release the body camera footage until the outcome of the investigations. Activist Harrison Tuttle of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC has called on city administration to release the footage. 

“As this investigation is ongoing, no additional information can be disclosed at this time,” said a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office released in an emailed statement. 

Two of the teenagers have been charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon. The third faces reckless driving charges. 

The Providence police face scrutiny amid a continued push by activists to reform law enforcement organizations and hold officers accountable. 

“I say to the public, if we are behaving unprofessionally, there will be consequences,” said Paré.

The Attorney General’s office is currently prosecuting Pawtucket Police officer Daniel Dolan for firing his gun at three teenagers in West Greenwich. Earlier this summer, Providence police came under scrutiny for the behavior of an officer and the use of pepper spray responding to a gathering in the city with a number of children.

Correction: a previous version of this story erroneously reported that a court appearance and demonstration were scheduled for Monday July 26th, for one of the teenagers arrested.