Cop suspended after Jersey City chase was also accused of beating his own brother-in-law
JERSEY CITY — One of the Jersey City police officers suspended Monday after a controversial police chase, and amid allegations officers kicked and beat an innocent man, was charged last year with assaulting and robbing his sister's husband.
But a grand jury declined to indict Officer Md Khan or his brother Abdus Khan in the incident, the Jersey Journal reported in June of last year.
"I believe the critical issue was the credibility of the victim and the state's witness," Abdus Khan's attorney, Daniel Welsh, was quoted saying at the time. "This was a family matter that got blown out of proportion."
Authorities had said that in February of last year, the Khans' brother-in-law told officers he was outside his home when the Khans pulled up in an SUV, and he ducked into a vestibule, according to the Jersey Journal. He reportedly said Md Khan, with his gun on his hip, threatened to kill him if they weren't let in, and the two began beating him once inside.
Md Khan was suspended Monday along with Lt. Keith Ludwig, Officer Erik Kosinski and Officer Francisco Rodriguez Monday as authorities continue to investigate last week's controversial chase. According to the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, officers fired their weapons at a vehicle being driven by Leo Pinkston during the pursuit. State guidelines prohibit officers from doing so except as a last resort to protect public safety.
Pinkston crashed at least twice during that crash — the second time into a utility pole, causing a fire that injured Miguel Feliz-Rodriguez, who was driving on Tonnelle Avenue. Hudson County Prosecutor Ester Suarez said after the crash, Feliz-Rodriguez was taken to the Burn Center at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where he was listed as being in stable condition as of Thursday night. The prosecutor's office did not disclose Feliz-Rodriguez's name, but it has been released by family members.
Additionally, last week video surfaced of the moments after the crash. Officers, seen in silhouette against the flames, appear to approach a man the prosecutor's office has said was the victim of the crash, and not Pinkston. Officers appear to kick the man before dragging him away across the pavement.
James Shea, public Safety director of Jersey City, said at least 20 officers were involved in the chase. Ludwig supervised the officers involved, he said.
It was not immediately clear from information released by Jersey City Monday whether Khan was among those seen in the video. The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office is continuing to investigate the chase and crash.
It also wasn't immediately clear at what point Khan had returned to active duty. He'd been suspended after the 2016 charges, according to the Jersey Journal report. New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to a city spokesperson and is awaiting a returned call for comment.
Hudson County Prosecutor Ester Suarez has asked people not to rush to judgment, but promised a thorough review of the incident. She said authorities would have to “review over 15 videos containing several hours of evidence, interview more than 20 witnesses and conduct a ballistics investigation into multiple shootings.”
She said after Mayor Steven Fulop's announcement of the suspension Monday that the investigation is ongoing and results are pending.
Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officer’s Benevolent Association, has said he believes the video shows officers actually trying to help the man in question.
"Taking swift action isn’t always elegant, but this video clearly shows that the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames, and pull this man out of harm’s way,” he said last week.
Fulop previously said what he saw in the video was "unacceptable" and said "We'll pursue termination and criminal charges as appropriate."
He said Monday support for Jersey City police would continue as long as they operate within the AG's guidelines and their own training.
Fulop said while the prosecutor's office will conduct the investigation, a preliminary review by the city police department "points to multiple indications of our officers and our supervisors acting outside their guidelines and their training."
Those included "allowing the pursuit for the time and distance involved, setting up a roadblock (without proper permission), firing shots at a moving vehicle and actions seen on (the) video post-crash that has been widely covered," Fulop said.
Fulop said all of the officers involved would be held accountable "for their actions or inactions that night."
James Shea, public Safety director of Jersey City, said authorities in the community "have a strong record here of supporting our police officers and acting swiftly with discipline when appropriate, where we feel there is a violation based on the procedures that we put in place.”
As to the video: “I have my opinion on it but I would be putting myself in someone else’s mind to answer until the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office has had an opportunity to ask the people in that video and explain their actions at that time.”
Patrick Culligan, president of the NJ State Policemen's Benevolent Association, said of Fulop's announcement: "We don’t represent the Jersey City guys, but I think it’s a pretty terrible rush to judgement. I have a lot of faith in Prosecutor Suarez but I think that she could make that decision. Another rush to judgment. Disappointing that politicians feel like they should be inserting themselves into police cases. Par for the course in 2017 I guess."
Feliz underwent surgery for burns last week and remains hospitalized.
Reporting by David Matthau, Dan Alexander and Adam Hochron was used in this report.
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