Providence Police and Rhode Island State Troopers fired more than 40 bullets into a pickup truck that was ramming cars to elude capture. The hail of gunfire killed Joseph Santos, 32, and injured Christine Demers, 37, both of whom were unarmed.
At a press conference today, Providence Police played Rhode Island Department of Transportation highway camera footage that showed the white pickup truck Santos was driving dangerously eluding police on Route 10 before getting caught in traffic on a Interstate 95 highway ramp. The truck tries to ram other cars out of the way as officers descend on the truck and quickly start to shoot at the driver.
“After some moments,” said Providence Police Chief High Clements, “officers begin to use force, and use deadly force.”
He said, “We believe the footage shows the acts of the officers doing exactly what we would want them to do in stopping an imminent and significant threat at that moment for the people around that vehicle.”
Two of the officers wearing body cams did not use them properly and they captured no footage, police say. One body camera captured some of the shooting.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steve Pare said he believes the officers used the least force necessary to stop the situation.
“They attempted to stop the vehicle and and refused to stop,” Pare said. “They tried to gain entrance, they made every attempt to disable and remove the driver. These officers that you see in the video believed there was the imminent danger of death.”
It is unclear if officers could have shot the tires of the truck, or broken a window to physically apprehend the driver. “We had no idea who is in that vehicle,” said Clements, who noted the windows of the truck were blacked out. “We had no idea if there were weapons inside.”
As it turns out, Santos and Demers were unarmed.
“You were gunned down senselessly!!!” wrote Stacey Lee Tessier on Facebook about Santos. “Don’t worry baby boy I will fight this shit for you.”