ACLU ques­tions how chase ended in deadly shoot­ing

Woonsocket Call - - Front Page - By JEN­NIFER McDER­MOTT

PROV­I­DENCE — The Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union raised ques­tions Mon­day about how a high-speed chase ended in a deadly shoot­ing in­volv­ing of­fi­cers on In­ter­state 95 in Rhode Is­land.

The ACLU of Rhode Is­land is ques­tion­ing whether the chase and use of force were jus­ti­fied, why more body cam­eras weren’t ac­ti­vated and why state po­lice haven’t re­leased the in­volved troop­ers’ names.

Po­lice say Joseph San­tos, 32, tried to speed away from of­fi­cers Thurs­day but got caught in traf­fic and re­peat­edly rammed an­other car in front of him as of­fi­cers jumped out of the way.

Prov­i­dence and state po­lice fired more than 40 rounds, killing San­tos and in­jur­ing his pas­sen­ger, Chris­tine De­mers, 37. Both agen­cies praised the re­spond­ing of­fi­cers.

“In the ab­sence of ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, it would be wrong to blame the po­lice for what they did,” the ACLU said in a com­men­tary on the shoot­ing. “But it is just as in­ap­pro­pri­ate for po­lice of­fi­cials to so quickly con­clude that there is no fault by po­lice for what hap­pened either.”

It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear why San­tos wouldn’t stop, though po­lice did say he had two out­stand­ing war­rants.

Prov­i­dence Po­lice re­leased the names of their of­fi­cers in­volved and video footage Fri­day. Of­fi­cers re­cently be­gan wear­ing body cam- eras, and only one of the depart­ment’s five of­fi­cers who used their weapons had body cam­era footage.

State Po­lice Col. Ann As­sumpico, in a press con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day, wouldn’t re­lease the names of the four troop­ers in­volved in shoot­ing the sus­pect on a busy high­way, although she com­mended them.

The ACLU is ask­ing state po­lice to re­lease its high-speed pur­suit pol­icy and the troop­ers’ names. It says the agency’s re­fusal to name the troop­ers “rep­re­sents a glar­ing and trou­bling lack of trans­parency.”

The state po­lice didn’t im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Mon­day.

Demo­crat Gov. Gina Rai­mondo thinks the names of state troop­ers in­volved should be re­leased, her spokesman, David Or­tiz. He said the gov­er­nor ex­pects state po­lice to re­lease the names when their pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­pleted in the next day or two.

Rai­mondo be­lieves po­lice re­sponded ap­pro­pri­ately, Or­tiz added.

The shoot­ing hap­pened less than two hours af­ter a sus­pect who was be­ing taken to court was left alone in a state po­lice cruiser. The man stole the po­lice ve­hi­cle, driv­ing it to a Prov­i­dence neigh­bor­hood and aban­don­ing it.

Au­thor­i­ties on Fri­day ar­rested 35-year-old Don­ald Mor­gan, who was wanted for steal­ing the cruiser.

As­sumpico said the trooper who left Mor­gan alone was “fol­low­ing pro­to­col,” ac­cord­ing to The Prov­i­dence Jour­nal. She said the trooper stopped to in­ves­ti­gate an ac­ci­dent scene, and state po­lice must leave their keys in their cars to run emer­gency lights. She would not name the trooper.

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