External Review Authority briefed on recent Providence PD incidents

"We viewed some body cam footage and we have concerns," said Batista.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Providence External Review Authority, which reviews possible instances of police misconduct, is looking into two incidents involving Providence Police officers this week.

Executive Director for the PERA Jose Batista tells ABC 6 he was briefed on the incidents by Police Chief Clements Friday afternoon after receiving numerous phone calls and a formal complaint.

Wednesday night Providence Police officers responded to Fortnight Wine Bar for complaints of loud music.

According to the police report the bar did not have permits to play music outside and was asked to shut the music off.

But according to a statement from City Councilor Kat Kerwin, who witnesses the incident, she claims the officers were antagonistic and have been harassing the business which has been vocally anti–law enforcement.

“You hear about these allegations, you’re curious about it. Especially in what we’re living through now,” said Batista. “We are obviously living through a very different time right now, a very intense time post the murder of George Floyd.”

Then Thursday night two Black Lives Matter protesters were arrested outside the public safety complex during a rally for law enforcement.

Since then, Batista says he’s been fielding multiple phone calls.

“One common thread between them was a concern that maybe the police were treating people from those parties differently,” said Batista. “That there was maybe a little bit more concern, a little bit more aggression towards the black lives matter crowd.”

Police arrested a 28–year–old man for simple assault, resisting arrest, and having a knife, and an 18–year–old woman for disorderly conduct. She is being held without bail.

“We viewed some body cam footage and we have concerns,” said Batista.

Batista says he’ll likely recommend to his board launching a full investigation.

“We need multiple looks at this thing because that’s unfortunately what happens. These things just kind of flare up at us in a fraction a second,” said Batista. “Next thing you know folks are on the floor being arrested. And so we want to try and unpack that a little bit.”

Providence Police say they will continue to work collaboratively with PERA.

Regarding the incident at Fortnight, the police union said in part that the allegations by Councilor Kerwin are, “Nothing short of false, inflammatory,and simply serve to support her extreme de-fund the police agenda.”

The PERA board will meet to discuss these incidents in the next few weeks.

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