Police: Man Shot, Killed By Officers Knew Suspect In Cruiser Theft

PROVIDENCE (CBS) — Providence Police confirmed Tuesday that the man who was shot and killed after a pursuit last Thursday was in fact acquainted with another man who they say stole a police cruiser while in custody earlier that day.

They said Joseph Santos, 32, the shooting victim, did know Donald Morgan, 35, accused in the cruiser theft, but did not elaborate on how.

morgan1 Police: Man Shot, Killed By Officers Knew Suspect In Cruiser Theft

Donald Morgan. (Rhode Island State Police)

“The two knew each other but beyond that I am not sure what their exact relationship was,” a Providence Police spokesperson told WBZ-TV.

Officers tried to stop Santos’ truck as part of the search for Morgan, leading to the chase that ended in Santos’ death.

Police initially said the cruiser theft and the shooting were related, but said Santos was not a suspect in the theft of the cruiser.

Santos was killed by police around 10:45 a.m. Thursday on an I-95 north on-ramp near Providence Place.

santos Police: Man Shot, Killed By Officers Knew Suspect In Cruiser Theft

Joseph Santos. (Providence Police)

Officers said they fired on him because he was using his vehicle as a dangerous weapon, and they feared for the lives of nearby drivers as well as their own.

That shooting came less than two hours after they said Morgan, handcuffed and being transported to court, managed to steal the cruiser he was riding in while the driver, Trooper Michael Doherty, got out to investigate a crash on Route 146.

The cruiser was found abandoned in a Providence neighborhood a short time later.

Morgan was finally arrested Friday night in Cumberland, Rhode Island, near the Massachusetts state line–and is facing charges in court today.

provtruck Police: Man Shot, Killed By Officers Knew Suspect In Cruiser Theft

A white pickup involved in a police chase that ended near the Providence Place Mall. (WBZ-TV)

During the manhunt for Morgan, investigators received a tip that a man matching Morgan’s description entered a white pickup truck–like the one Santos was later seen driving erratically.

On Friday, police released body camera and DOT video showing the pursuit and shooting that resulted in Santos’ death.

On Tuesday, Providence Police released radio traffic from their officers during the pursuit and shooting.

Also Tuesday, Rhode Island State Police released the names of the troopers who fired on Santos’ truck: Detective Lieutenant Cynthia Trahan, Corporal Scott R. Carlsten, Detective Corporal Herbert D. Tilson, and Trooper Garrett S. Hassett.

They fired a total of 23 shots at Santos; in total, over 40 shots were fired in two volleys.

providence Police: Man Shot, Killed By Officers Knew Suspect In Cruiser Theft

Several officers fired at the truck on a ramp to I-95 in Providence, Nov. 9, 2017. (Image credit: Michael Perry)

All four have been placed on administrative leave as per State Police policy–and Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, said she has ordered partitions to be installed in all cruisers to help prevent incidents like the one with Morgan.

Col. Assumpico said the investigations into the cruiser theft and Santos’ shooting are ongoing.

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