NEWPORT, R.I. — The attorney general’s office and Newport Police Department are reviewing an incident from early Sunday involving several patrol officers captured in a viral video that shows them shoving bystanders, knocking one head-first into a light pole, and punching another passerby in the head and dragging him down to the street for arrest.
Dennis Engleson and Christopher Adams, both 22-year-old men living in Newport, were charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction.
Police were unable to answer questions from the Globe about why they were charged or why the men were assaulted. Chief Gary Silva did not respond to a request for comment. Department spokeswoman Lt. April Amaral told the Globe Monday they were aware of the video and the incident was under review. The department is directing anyone with information to contact Captain Charles Silvia or email email@example.com.
Assistant Attorney General Kathryn M. Sabatini said Monday afternoon that the office is investigating the incident with the Newport police.
The 24-second video captures a scene on Thames Street early Sunday morning, around 1:20 a.m., soon after the bars closed. It shows two officers pressing Engleson up against a Newport Trolley, while other young people mill behind them. One bystander appears to reach to touch one of the officers; a third officer grabs the bystander and shoves him and another woman away, slamming into another young man who hits a light pole face-first and falls into the street. That officer returns to the arrest, and as Adams walks by and stops, the officer turns and strikes him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
In another video shared with the Globe, Adams is lying near the curb as an officer punches him him in the head while arresting him.
The Newport police did not release the arrest report or the names of arresting officers. In responding to the Globe’s request, Amaral gave the charges, but said she didn’t have the report in front of her Monday afternoon so she couldn’t answer questions about what led to the arrests.
Under Rhode Island law, police are required to provide the identities and charges of adults who are arrested, as well as the arresting officers, within 48 hours of a request.
Amaral initially refused to name the two men who were arrested. After the Globe cited the law, Amaral released the names of the men who were charged, but not the names of the officers. She directed the reporter to file a request under the Access to Public Records Act.
Although Newport police have used body-worn cameras since 2017, Amaral said she didn’t know if the patrol officers were wearing them or had them on.
Engleson is a student at the University of Rhode Island, where he plays on the hockey team. His lawyer, Christopher Millea of Cranston, said that Engleson was arrested “for no apparent reason.” Millea declined further comment, saying he was also waiting to get a copy of the arrest report.
Both men were arraigned on the misdemeanor charges and released to appear in District Court on July 6.