PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A woman who was the passenger in a truck that was fired at by Providence police officers and R.I. State Troopers during a dramatic shooting on an on-ramp to I-95 in 2017, has filed a lawsuit against the city and Rhode Island.
A lawyer for Christine Demers, of Provdience – the passenger in the truck – said in an email the lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Providence Superior Court.
The shooting came after a chase on Route 10 in Cranston that ended near the Providence Place mall, and resulted in the death of 32-year-old Joseph Santos, the driver of the pick-up truck and Demers boyfriend.
In 2018, a Providence Grand Jury found the police involved were “lawful and legally justified” in their actions when they shot and killed Santos.
The lawsuit states a bullet “struck Ms. Demers in her lower back on her right side, puncturing her kidney, liver, and diaphragm.”
“Ms. Demers has undergone multiple surgeries and suffered extreme pain and mental anguish,” attorneys Georgi Vogel-Rosen and Gil A. Bianchi wrote in the lawsuit. “She continues to experience health problems and physical scarring that will plague her for the rest of her life.”
The lawsuit claims Demers begged her boyfriend to stop the truck during the pursuit stating, “she was trapped inside the car. It was like she was living a real-life nightmare.”
A total of 43 rounds were fired at the truck and a ballistic report found Demers was shot by a state police-issued weapon, according to the lawsuit.
In the newly released lawsuit it states that Demers “continues to experience health problems and physical scarring that will plague her for the rest of her life.”
The defendants in the lawsuit are four R.I. state troopers and five Providence police officers involved in the shooting, a separate Providence officer who authorized the continued pursuit, the state of Rhode Island and the City of Providence.
There are two separate claims against one Providence police officer involved in the shooting on the basis that he created a partial roadblock on the I-95 on-ramp.
Police were originally in pursuit of Donald Morgan, who had stolen a state police cruiser while being transported to court earlier that morning. Eyewitnesses told police they saw Morgan get into the back of white F-150. Santos was driving a white F-350.
The lawsuit argues there was “no true emergency” to warrant a multi-car pursuit that ended in the hail of gunfire because “Mr. Morgan was not armed and was not suspected of having committed a violent crime.”
Emails to Providence and state officials were not immediately returned.