Suspect in cruiser theft held without bail

Donald Morgan (Police photo)

A man accused of stealing a Rhode Island State Police cruiser and sparking a manhunt that led to a fatal shooting was ordered held without bail Tuesday.

Donald Morgan was arraigned on several charges, including escaping from custody and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Morgan was being transported to court last Thursday morning after being arrested for allegedly stealing someone's car when he allegedly stole the cruiser of Rhode Island State Police Trooper Michael Doherty, who had stopped to check out a crash.

In an affidavit by Doherty obtained by NBC 10 News, the trooper wrote that Morgan was “seated in the passenger side rear seat, and was seat belted in to the seat.” Doherty said it was when he was attending to the accident, he “then turned and observed Morgan moving from lane to lane utilizing the emergency lights of the cruiser to move people out of the way.”

Priscialla Adams, who identified herself as Morgan’s ex-girlfriend, spoke with NBC 10 after his arraignment. She said Morgan knew Joseph Santos, who was shot and killed in the aftermath of Morgan’s escape.

"They're very, very close, but I really didn't think, for me, I didn't think he would be in a truck," said Adams, adding that she “had tears knowing that he's going away, and it's upsetting that he did this,"

referring to seeing Morgan at his arraignment.

It's unclear at this point if Morgan and Santos had any contact the morning of his alleged escape, but police said he did have help.

Daniel Medeiros and Rachael Reed are charged with hiding Morgan at their Cumberland home, where investigators arrested all three as they were arriving at the house Friday night.

Police said Read was driving a red caravan, with Morgan in the front passenger seat and Medeiros in the back, with Morgan trying to flee authorities again.

"He attempted to flee by jumping into the driver's seat, placing the van into drive and lurching forward where he then stuck a tree," said Cpl. Thomas Chabot of the Rhode Island State Police.

State police on Tuesday released a statement, saying that Col. Ann Assumpico “noted that the agency recently underwent an intensive review of all policies and procedures by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA) as part of a “gold-standard assessment,” in which the agency received the highest level of accreditation. However, she said, “the agency routinely reviews its policies and protocols after any incident such as those that occurred last week.”

Assumpico is also ordering that partitions be installed between the front and back seats of all marked Rhode Island State Police cruisers as soon as possible.

The department also released its policies on both pursuit driving and use of force.

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