Four Jersey City cops suspended after chase, video shows victim being kicked
JERSEY CITY — Four Jersey City police officers have been suspended in connection with a controversial police chase that ended in a fiery crash — and with officers seen in a video seeming to kick and drag an innocent victim of the incident.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop on Monday announced four police officers including a lieutenant have been suspended indefinitely without pay, and two deputy chiefs have been transferred.
The suspended officers were identified as Lt. Keith Ludwig, Officer M.D. Khan, Officer Erik Kosinski and Officer Francisco Rodriguez. The deputy chiefs were not identified.
Fulop and Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea said they had concluded the officers violated several guidelines during the chase, including firing shots from their vehicle at another moving vehicle. New Jersey State Attorney General guidelines state officers should only fire at moving vehicles as a matter of last resort to protect public safety.
Authorities say Leo Pinkston led police on a chase lasting several blocks late on the evening of June 4, and was involved in at least two separate crashes over the course of the pursuit.
It ended when he crashed into a utility pole, which caused 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.
Video from the incident surfaced several days later, seeming to show police kicking and dragging a bystander at the end of the pursuit.
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 Fulop's announcement 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.
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.
David Matthau, Adam Hochron and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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