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Providence police release traffic, body cam video from shooting

(Courtesy Steve McLaughlin)

Providence police on Friday identified a man shot and killed by officers on an Interstate 95 ramp following a pursuit as 32-year-old Joseph Santos.

A woman in the pickup truck who was injured in the shooting Thursday morning was identified as 37-year-old Christine Demers. She was recovering at Rhode Island Hospital.

Col. Hugh Clements defended his officers' use of lethal force, saying that Santos presented a clear danger to public safety. Clements said the windows of the truck were blacked out and they did not know who was inside.

Providence police released traffic camera footage from the state Department of Transportation that showed officers pursuing the truck on Route 10 into Providence until it eventually was boxed in by traffic on a ramp to Interstate 95 north.

The video shows the truck ramming three cars around it and spinning its wheels to create a plume of smoke.

“The vehicle is trying to run them over, hitting other cars and rocking back and forth," Clements said.

Police also played body camera footage from officers. Some of it is obscured by an officer's hand.

Clements said about 40 rounds were fired at the truck, 20 by Providence police and 20 by Rhode Island State Police.

No gun was found in the vehicle.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare responded to criticism that officers overreacted.

"Those officers that you see in the video believed that there was imminent danger, serious injury or death," Pare said.

Five Providence officers were put on administrative duty while an internal investigation plays out between city and state police. Three of the five officers have more than 20 years on the job.

The state police were notably absent from the news conference.

The state medical examiner said no ruling has been made in Santos's death.

The pursuit of the truck stemmed from the search for a man accused of stealing a state police cruiser earlier in the day.

Officers received a tip that a "subject matching the description” of Donald Morgan was seen getting into the bed of a white pickup truck.

Providence police stopped and released "a few" white pickup trucks.

Cranston police tried to stop a white pickup truck on the city line, but it fled.

Morgan, a 35-year-old Providence man, remained on the run Friday.

State police said Morgan was being transported in the cruiser Thursday when the trooper got out of the car at the scene of an accident on Route 146 in Providence.

Morgan, in handcuffs, managed to get into the driver's seat and take off.

Police said Morgan abandoned the cruiser on Vineyard Street in Providence and vanished despite the exhaustive search efforts of police in tactical gear.

"We definitely want him and that's why we're putting out the information so people can recognize him and let us know as soon as they can," state police Col. Ann Assumpico said.




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