PROVIDENCE — The police and attorney general’s office said they are investigating after a man who was found screaming and incoherent died about an hour after a brief struggle with police officers early Friday.
The Providence police were called about a man screaming in the middle of the street around 12:30 a.m., and found 34-year-old Joseph Ventre rolling on the grassy field by the ballfield at 18 Collyer St.
A 16 minute, 43 second video from one officer’s body-worn camera released by the department Friday evening shows the incident from start to finish. Ventre’s screams can be heard from the street, as the officers walked into the park.
They shined flashlights on Ventre as he lay on the ground, and asked his name and what drugs he had taken. Ventre says “Dave” and “Frankie,” and shouts and moans unintelligibly as he rolled on the ground, seemingly oblivious to the officers.
The police called for an ambulance, and several officers try to talk calmly to Ventre as the ambulance arrived. “He’s on something, he’s just wigging out,” an officer says to the Providence firefighters as they looked for a place to bring in a stretcher.
“Relax your body. You’re OK,” one officer said as Ventre flailed on the ground alone and screamed. “David, relax,” another said. “No one’s going to hurt you.”
As the firefighters brought the stretcher in, several officers gathered around Ventre and tried to handcuff him as he was on the ground. “David, relax, we’re trying to help you David,” one said, as Ventre continued to scream.
The police department said in a statement Friday that the officers attempted to put handcuffs on Ventre to prevent injuries and for the safety of the firefighters.
“Get him off his stomach,” another officer said. They picked him up and placed him on a stretcher, where he became quiet. The firefighters shook his body and moved the stretcher toward the ambulance.
“Whatever he was on made him really [expletive] strong,” one officer said as they walked away.
According to the police statement, the firefighters began to perform CPR on Ventre in the ambulance and transported him to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:41 a.m.
Providence police detectives, the state police and attorney general’s office launched an investigation, following the use-of-force protocol. The police internal affairs office is also investigating and reviewing any additional body-worn camera footage.
Amanda Milkovits can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.