Man accused of stealing state police cruiser captured in Cumberland

Donald Morgan is accused of driving off with a R.I. State Police cruiser, setting off a chain of events that resulted in a deadly police shooting in downtown Providence.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The man accused of stealing a state police cruiser Thursday morning was captured in Cumberland, Eyewitness News has learned.

Donald Morgan, 35, was caught Friday by the Rhode Island Violent Fugitive Task Force and is in custody at headquarters in Scituate. Police said he would be held overnight pending an arraignment Saturday morning.

Col. Ann Assumpico said that the Task Force apprehended him at a home on Vermont Avenue at about 6:45 p.m. Friday.

Morgan resisted arrest and there was an altercation, Assumpico said, and Troopers ultimately used a Taser to subdue him. He was taken to the hospital to be evaluated, and then returned to State Police custody. He’s facing numerous charges including eluding police, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, escape from custody, obstructing an officer in execution of duty, larceny of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest, and reckless driving.

Two other people who lived at the home where Morgan was arrested, 54-year-old Daniel Medeiros and 47-year-old Rachael Read, are being charged with harboring a fugitive. Police said they were friends of Morgan’s.

State Police arrested Morgan at about 11 a.m. Wednesday after he was involved in a car crash on I-95 South near Route 10. Troopers found that the car he was driving had been stolen, and he was injured in the crash. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and then returned to State Police custody to be held overnight at their Lincoln Woods Barracks pending his arraignment Thursday morning.

A Trooper was driving Morgan to court Thursday morning when the Trooper came upon a crash in the travel lane of Route 146 South at about 9 a.m. He stopped to check on the people involved, and police said that’s when Morgan, who was handcuffed in the back seat, somehow got into the front seat of the cruiser and drove off.

Assumpico said Saturday that Morgan had been handcuffed with his hands in front of his body because of his injuries from the previous day. There is no barrier between the front and rear seats in that particular State Police vehicle, Assumipico said, and the keys were left in the vehicle while the Trooper got out in order to keep the emergency lights on.

Morgan later ditched the police cruiser on Vineyard Street, according to police. Assumpico also said the firearm that was in the cruiser was still there when the vehicle was located about 15 minutes later.

The Trooper who was driving the cruiser is not being named and remains on duty.

The joy ride in the cruiser was not the first time Morgan attempted to escape police custody, Eyewitness News has learned. Warwick Police said Morgan ran away while after being placed in a cruiser after a stint at Kent Hospital while in custody, but only made it about 20 yards before being captured.

Morgan has a long criminal history, with his most recent arrest taking place on Wednesday, when he was charged with possession of a stolen vehicle and obstruction.

As police in Cranston and Providence searched for Morgan, they received a tip that he may be in a white pickup truck. Officers in both cities attempted to stop several white trucks as part of their search, including the one driven by 32-year-old Joseph Santos, who led police on a high-speed chase through Route 10 toward the I-95 North on-ramp near the Providence Place mall. Police would fire approximately 40 shots into the truck, killing Santos and wounding Christine Demers.

Assumpico said Saturday that investigators are still working to determine if there was a connection between Santos and Morgan. Four State Troopers were involved and are on administrative duty.