Providence police release body cam of
Newly released body-worn camera footage shows the moments a Pawtucket man was arrested by officers after crashing his car into a building last month while suffering from an apparent medical episode.
The footage from the night of Aug. 18 shows officers walking up to Tahj Eddington’s vehicle as it was resting against the side of a closed storefront. Eddington was driving for Uber at the time of the crash and had a passenger in his car.
A man who claimed he was in the car with Eddington at the time of the crash told officers Eddington had suffered a seizure behind the wheel, which caused him to lose control of his vehicle.
12 News spoke to Eddington, who said he sustained injuries after the crash, and he claims the injuries were the result of being assaulted by police.
In a joint statement, Providence Police Chief Oscar Perez and Mayor Brett Smiley explained that the officers immediately noticed Eddington was unstable and in need of medical attention.
In the video, Eddington — who appears confused — is seen pulling away from the officers as they attempted to walk him over to one of their cruisers.
Eddington can be heard screaming loudly as the officers took him to the ground. The joint statement claims Eddington tried to hit one of the officers, which is what prompted them to take him into custody.
In the video, officers struggle to put handcuffs on Eddington. Once they place him under arrest and put him in a police cruiser, the footage shows Eddington screaming and slamming his head against the glass repeatedly as an officer transported him to the hospital.
The footage also shows the moments officers attempted to move Eddington from the cruiser to a stretcher upon arriving at the hospital. Eddington — whose hands were cuffed behind his back — can be seen falling out of the cruiser and hitting the pavement head-first.
Once he was on a stretcher and being wheeled into the emergency room, Eddington complained that his hands, which were still cuffed, were hurting him.
The officers eventually removed the handcuffs and restrained him to the sides of the stretcher.
When one of the officers asked Eddington if he knew that he had been involved in a crash, he expressed confusion and concern.
“I did not know,” Eddington can be heard telling the officer. “Really?”
State Rep. David Morales shared a letter he sent to Col. Perez on Thursday, urging the police department to release the bodycam footage. 12 News made a public records request for the video after Eddington reached out to a reporter on social media.
Morales’ letter contains images of Eddington’s injuries, which included a split lip and broken thumb, as well as cuts and bruises on his wrists.
12 News showed Morales the bodycam footage Friday evening.
“It was really horrifying to watch,” Morales said. “There was no empathy or sympathy shown by Providence police.”
Morales said mental health professionals should have been called to the scene, and thinks Eddington should have been transported to the hospital in an ambulance.
“You had over a dozen police officers at one point and no one could come to the conclusion that perhaps a medical professional should have been on the scene,” said Morales. “Would Tahj have been treated with more empathy and understanding had he been a white man?”
In the joint statement, Smiley and Perez said the incident had been reviewed and it was determined that the officers followed the appropriate use-of-force protocols, though one of them is being disciplined for excessive profanity. The nature of his punishment is still being determined.
“Providence police are held to a high standard of professionalism,” the statement reads.
Eddington was not criminally charged, but was given traffic citations for the crash.