State police examining clothes, phones, bullet fragments, drug paraphernalia in deadly pursuit case

Photo: Dan McGowan/WPRI-TV

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police are analyzing several items seized from the truck that led them on a high-speed chase in Providence, according to court filings that also state the pursuit came to an end when the pickup “was blocked by civilian traffic.”

There was civilian traffic in front of the vehicle Joseph Santos was driving before he was shot and killed by police, but a Providence police cruiser was in front of the traffic.

Video recorded by RIDOT cameras show what appears to be four civilian vehicles in front of Santos, one of which he rams into, eventually forcing it to the right.

A handful of other civilian vehicles also appear to be blocked in the nearby ramp that brings traffic from the city onto the interstate.

Target 12 asked state police spokesperson Laura Meade Kirk to clarify whether or not a police car blocked the civilian traffic, that blocked the truck.

“The truck’s path ultimately was blocked by civilian traffic, including the car that [Santos] rammed in an attempt to escape,” Kirk replied in an email.

One of the three affidavits filed last Friday also states there is probable cause that the pickup truck occupants were involved in criminal activity.

A seizure report shows a list of 21 items recovered from the white vehicle, including two glass pipes and a syringe that potentially indicate drug use.

A 50-inch TV is also on the list. Kirk would not offer any details about whether or not police suspect the TV is stolen property.

“As for the TV,” Kirk said, “detectives are reviewing all of the evidence seized from the truck as part of the ongoing investigation.”

That evidence includes the clothes Santos and Demers were wearing, and three cell phones.

“There is probable cause the clothing worn by the occupants of the vehicle will contain physical evidence related to the the officer involved shooting,” the document states.

An attachment to the affidavit speaks in general terms about the request to search the phones, indicating the devices may be evidence of a crime or “may have been used to collect and store information about crimes.”

According to the documents, the truck was unregistered at the time of the pursuit. Mead Kirk said Santos owned the vehicle.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau