Providence police captain receives one year's probation for assault on handcuffed man

PROVIDENCE — A suspended Providence police captain must serve a full year of probation for slamming the face of a handcuffed man into the pavement near India Point Park last summer.

Stephen J. Gencarella received the probation, plus a no-contact order, during an appearance Thursday before Judge Anthony Capraro in District Court, Providence.

Gencarella pleaded no contest to a charge of simple assault.

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Providence police Capt. Stephen J. Gencarella, right, appears Thursday in District Court, Providence, where he was arraigned on a charge of simple assault

The misdemeanor charge was the result of his involvement in the arrest of a 21-year-old Armando Rivas during the city's fireworks show at India Point Park on July 3, 2022.

That arrest was caught on video and posted online, sparking harsh criticism and calling for then Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and for the city's police chief to recommend Gencarella be fired.

Rivas allegedly refused to remove a Jeep Cherokee from the travel lane of the nearby on-ramp to Interstate 195, according to police.

Gencarella and another police officer had struggled to get Rivas into handcuffs, the police report states.

In the video of the arrest, as Rivas lay prone on the ground and handcuffed, it appears that Gencarella raised Rivas' head up by the hair before slamming his face into the asphalt.

On July 5, the first business day that followed his holiday weekend arrest, Rivas pleaded no contest to resisting arrest, obstructing an officer and double counts of simple assault.

District Court Judge Melissa Dubose ordered Rivas to serve a year of probation.

Gencarella, who was charged in August, was much slower to make his own plea of no contest.

Later, Providence police moved to fire Gencarella through a process governed by the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, accusing him of six violations of rules, regulations, policies and standards of conduct, including violations related to the department's use of force policy.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Michael McCabe asked Capraro to sentence Gencarella to a suspended one-year prison term, as well as a year of probation and a no-contact order, according to Brian Hodge, a spokesman for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. McCabe also requested 100 hours of community service.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence police captain Gencarella gets probation for assault