A 24-second video of the incident, which was first shared by the website Newport Buzz, has now accumulated hundreds of thousands of views on social media. The clip shows several officers apprehending a young man on Thames Street around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, as businesses were closing and bar-goers streamed home. As the officers hold the man against the side of a trolley bus, another bystander approaches and appears to reach towards the officers, at which point another policeman forcefully grabs the man and shoves him away — colliding with a third man who then crashes face-first against a lamp post and into the cobblestone street.

The video then shows another bystander walking down the sidewalk and stopping directly behind the officers, who are still struggling with the man pushed against the trolley. One of the police officers then abruptly turns and hits the man in the face, sending him to the ground as onlookers can be heard gasping. One bystander in the video exclaims, “Oh my god, what is your deal?”

Dennis Engleson and Christopher Adams, two 22-year-old white males from Newport, were ultimately arrested for obstruction and resisting arrest. Engleson was also charged with disorderly conduct.

In a written statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the department said the incident began when Engleson was observed “forcefully throwing a silicone bar mat towards persons walking down the sidewalk.” The police department’s account alleges that Engleson was instructed multiple times to leave the area, but refused and “continued to yell and act belligerently.”

The statement goes on to describe the altercation, explaining that one of the police officers was “startled to see a male directly behind him” as his colleagues were making the arrest.

Newport Police have now identified the three personnel involved as Officer John Sullivan, Officer Neil Sullivan, and Detective Patrick Walsh. The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office confirmed it will be jointly investigating the incident with the Newport Police Department.

Antonia Ayres-Brown is the Newport Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio and a Report for America corps member. She can be reached at antonia@thepublicsradio.org