A video posted to Facebook shows nine Rhode Island cops firing more than 40 shots at a couple in a white pick-up truck, killing a man and seriously injuring a woman, who they suspected stole a police cruiser on November 9.
But they ended up killing the wrong man as the man they were looking for was not even in the truck.
“I don’t know what they believed, and their justification for the use of force,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare told WPRI-TV Thursday.
“That’s all a part of the investigation,” Pare said. “So there was the theft of a troop car and there was this chase by the police officers and then deadly force was used.”
“One has nothing to do with the other.”
No weapons were found in the truck.
But Province Police Chief Hugh Clements claims the driver of the vehicle, 32-year-old Joseph Santos, was “behaving aggressively.”
So several officers thought the driver’s behavior was enough of a threat to justify shooting more than 40 bullets into the white pick up truck he was driving, injuring his passenger.
Clements identified the passenger of the vehicle as 37-year-old Christine Demers, who is hospitalized with serious injuries.
Around noon, a witness recorded the shooting from an on-ramp and later told reporters police boxed in Santos, who had a suspended drivers’ license.
Santos began ramming cars in front of him and behind him in an apparent effort to flee the scene, perhaps fearing for his life.
Earlier that day, at around 9:00 a.m., a Rhode Island state trooper was transporting Donald Morgan, 35, to criminal court on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and obstruction.
When the trooper stopped to tend to a traffic stop he observed, Morgan, still in handcuffs, managed to jump in the front seat and steal the cruiser, which was found abandoned less than an hour later in Province’s West End.
However, the man killed in the shooting was not Morgan.
The man who recorded the incident with his cellphone camera Juan Carlos Ardaya, clearly shaken, posted the video to Facebook 10 minutes later and said he was thankful to be alive.
View the video as well as the interview with Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare below.