PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An eyewitness who recorded dramatic footage of an officer-involved shooting in Providence said the pickup truck that was shot by police lurched into a cruiser before police opened fire.
Juan Carlos Ardaya was just feet away from the chaotic scene in his car and was recording video on his cellphone when the shooting took place.
Speaking Spanish, Ardaya told Eyewitness News the driver of the pickup was told to get out of the truck by an officer, but refused. That’s when the truck slammed backwards into a cruiser and, according to Ardaya, the pickup then went forward into another car.
Ardaya said he was shaken by the event.
“I give thanks to God,” Ardaya said. “I felt his protection in that moment.”
On the other side of the highway, Michael Perry, 42, of Warwick, held his phone up through the sunroof of his car and began recording moments before officers opened fire.
“I saw the commotion off to the right, pulled out the camera and started filming away,” Perry said. “It was amazing what happened next … seven or eight shots let off.”
Billowing white smoke can be seen overtaking the scene on the video. Perry said he could hear the engine revving, which leads him to believe the driver pressed on the gas pedal – spinning the tires – when he was shot. In Ardaya’s video, the sound of the engine seizing to a stop can be heard.
Perry said he didn’t know until later that he had captured the moment when someone’s life came to a violent end.
“It’s very tragic,” Perry said. “At that point no one knew what was going on but you hear the gunshots and you know someone messed up pretty bad.”
The video may be reviewed as part of the investigation into the shooting. Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island attorney general’s office, said officials there are involved with any officer-related shooting and prosecutors were on scene moments after the incident took place on Thursday.
“The standard policy is a three-agency review of all officer-involved shootings,” Kempe said. “The investigation will be conducted by Providence Police, the R.I. State Police and it would then be forwarded to our office and then we would make a determination as to whether the officers were legally justified.”
Moments after recording the video, Perry uploaded his experience to Facebook and Twitter. Hundreds of people had commented on his video as of Thursday afternoon.
“It’s unfortunate the outcome and circumstances,” he said. “But it’s something that should be shared and should be seen.”