PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBS) – A grand jury has found that police were justified to use deadly force in a 2017 police shooting during a highway pursuit that killed a man and injured a woman.
Joseph Santos, 32, was killed by police on Nov. 9, 2017 on an I-95 north on-ramp near Providence Place. A woman in Santos’ truck, Christine Demers, was seriously injured in the shooting.
Cell phone video captured the moment Providence and Rhode Island State Police opened fire on a white pickup truck driven by Santos that police had chased onto the I-95 on-ramp.
Officers said at the time that they fired on Santos because he was using his vehicle as a dangerous weapon, and they feared for the lives of nearby drivers as well as their own.
A statement from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office on Friday said the grand jury’s findings “determined that the actions by the troopers and officers were lawful and legally justified.”
Colonel Ann Assumpico, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said in a statement that the grand jury “made the right decision.”
“The men and women of the Rhode Island State Police and the Providence Police Department did what they are trained to do – to protect the lives of innocent people who were in imminent danger that day,” Assumpico said.
After the shooting, police released body camera and DOT video showing the pursuit and shooting that resulted in Santos’ death.
Several officers had been chasing a white truck driven by Santos when the shooting occurred around 10:45 a.m. on a stretch of the interstate that skirts the city’s downtown and the Providence Place mall.
Officers had tried to stop Santos’ truck as part of the search for another man, Donald Morgan, leading to the chase that ended in Santos’ death. Police said Morgan stole a police cruiser while in custody earlier that day.