PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBS) — At a press conference Friday afternoon, authorities identified the man shot and killed by Providence and Rhode Island State Police the day before on Interstate 95–and showed video depicting the chase and shooting.
Joseph Santos, 32, was shot several times. Providence Police said he had two outstanding warrants.READ MORE: Mass General, Brigham And Women's Among Top Hospitals In New U.S. News Rankings
Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said officers and troopers fired on Santos because he was using his white pickup truck as a deadly weapon, ramming into other cars and trying to run officers over.
Clements also identified Santos’ passenger, Christine Demurs, who was shot and wounded by police and is recovering at Rhode Island Hospital.
Police were in pursuit of Santos’ white truck in connection to a separate incident from earlier in the morning in which a handcuffed man stole a Rhode Island State Police cruiser.
That man, Donald Morgan, 35, was on the loose until he was captured Friday night in Cumberland, R.I.
Morgan was being taken to court and was left alone in the cruiser, stealing it and abandoning it.
Watch: Providence Police Chase And Shooting Video
The cruiser was later found unoccupied in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood.
Police initially said the theft and the shooting were related, but have said Santos was not a suspect in the theft of the cruiser.
Clements said Morgan stole the cruiser around 9 a.m., and that an hour later, an eyewitness told an officer he saw someone fitting Morgan’s description getting into a white pickup truck.
In the resulting manhunt, police stopped several white pickup trucks, searching for Morgan and letting the trucks go after it was determined he wasn’t inside.
Around 10:35 a.m., they were informed that Cranston, Rhode Island Police were chasing a white pickup truck that refused to stop and was driving erratically.READ MORE: BeerWorks Permanently Closing All 5 Locations Due To COVID Pandemic
The truck “clearly was attempting to elude police, driving in an erratic manner, driving at high speeds, putting the general law-abiding public at risk,” Clements said.
“The overarching decision was the imminent threat for serious bodily injury or death,” said Stephen Pare, public safety commissioner.
The driver, later identified as Santos, led police on a chase the full length of Route 10, veering in and out of left and right lanes and eventually getting on to I-95 North.
As the car became stuck in traffic, officers converged on it. Clements said they made the decision to open fire because Santos was putting the officers and nearby drivers at risk.
“As that vehicle is driving in a very aggressive manner, this vehicle is now being used as a weapon in an attempt to flee and it is hitting other cars, it is ramming at least one other car,” Col. Clements said as he walked reporters through the events leading up to Santos’ death.
Clements said over 40 shots were fired at the truck in two volleys–about 20 of them by Providence Police and the rest by RI State Troopers. He said no weapons were found in the pickup truck.
After that, the bullet-riddled truck began pouring smoke, and police moved in.
None of the officers involved were injured.
Clements praised one of his officers for saving a woman in the car he said Santos rammed.
“While all that chaos is going on, a Providence Police officer heroically gets into the vehicle … of the female who had been rammed by that fleeing vehicle,” he said. “He has the presence of mind to get her out of harm’s way into safety, he pulls her from the vehicle around the side of other vehicles that had been witness to this and put her into safety … quite frankly, he saves her.”
The shooting was witnessed by a person who filmed it from a nearby on-ramp. That witness said the driver was boxed in and was hitting cars behind and in front of him as officers converged on it.
At the press conference Friday afternoon, authorities showed footage from one of the responding officer’s body cameras, as well as footage from Department of Transportation highway cameras.MORE NEWS: Moderna And Pfizer To Expand COVID Vaccine Trials For Young Children
Pare said three officers were wearing body cameras, but only one was activated during the incident.