Lawsuit filed on behalf of man injured in moped crash

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Guardians of a Rhode Island moped driver who was sent into a coma with a head injury after he crashed while being followed closely by a Providence police cruiser filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf alleging brutality and excessive force.

Kendra Thibault and Tia Tribble, identified as legal guardians of Jhamal Gonsalves, 24, allege civil rights violations, negligence, assault and other offenses in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island. It seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Gonsalves was among hundreds of people riding dirt bikes, ATVs and other vehicles, some street-illegal, through the city Oct. 18.

The women argue that Gonsalves was operating his moped safely when police led him to lose control, cross the sidewalk and hit a wall in the Oct. 18 crash. The officer following him turned his cruiser “in a negligent and reckless manner” onto the sidewalk, hitting a stop sign and Gonsalves, according to the women.

The defendants include the city, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, and several other officers.

Pare said that he had no comment and that the department would respond to the lawsuit in court. A spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza said the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said last week that investigators determined the officer following Gonsalves did not directly strike Gonsalves or his moped, as witnesses have said, and no criminal charges were warranted. The officer was suspended for two days for not driving safely and not wearing a seat belt.

Gonsalves remains unconscious in a New Jersey rehabilitation facility, his family said last week.