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Groups Urge Swift Collection of Evidence in Carpio Arrest

Posted: April 27, 2005|Category: Criminal Justice Police Practices

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In response to widespread concerns over the physical appearance of criminal defendant Esteban Carpio at his arraignment, the ACLU and civil rights groups have called on Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman and four other government agencies to immediately gather available evidence  to determine the cause of the injuries.

The request was made in a letter sent last week to the heads of the Providence Police Department, the State Police, local FBI, Attorney General, and Director of Corrections. In addition to the ACLU, the letter was co-signed by the Urban League of Rhode Island, the R.I. Commission for Human Rights, the Public Defender and R.I. Affirmative Action Professionals.

Carpio allegedly shot and killed Detective James Allen at the Providence Public Safety Complex on April l7 while being questioned about a robbery, then jumped from a third-story window and fled. Officers from three law enforcement agencies apprehended him downtown about 20 minutes later. The next day, he entered court with a heavily bruised face, swollen eyes and a mask obscuring the lower portion of his face.

The letter emphasized that the groups were not drawing any conclusions as to how the injuries occurred, but stressed the need to act quickly to get evidence to document what happened that night. The letter identified numerous distinct junctures during Carpio’s arrest and custody that were very likely observed by witnesses and/or captured by video surveillance cameras. Evidence at each of these points, argued the letter, could help determine whether Carpio’s injuries were due largely to the circumstances of his escape or if they were incurred or exacerbated during his arrest or detention. The letter noted the importance of taking immediate action before any evidence was lost.

The letter also requested that “full disclosure of the investigation and the visual evidence obtained be provided to the public as expeditiously as possible,” since “full and timely disclosure will bolster the community’s support of the inquiry and its ultimate findings.” Acknowledging the “devastating nature” of the murder, and expressing sorrow for the tragedy, the letter noted: “It is precisely [for such crimes] that the rights of defendants must be respected in order to demonstrate the preeminence of the rule of law in our system of criminal justice.”

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