Innocent burning man beaten by cops may sue NJ city for $25M
JERSEY CITY — A man who was pulled from a fiery car wreck by cops who beat, kicked and handcuffed him after they had chased another man may sue the city for as much as $25 million, NJ.com reported Friday.
Miguel Feliz put the city on notice about the potential suit by filing a notice of tort claim, which says he suffered broken ribs and injuries to his back, arms and head at the hands of police. Those injuries were in addition to the serious burns, all of which left him hospitalized for several months.
A city spokeswoman said officials do not comment on pending litigation.
A Hudson County grand jury this fall indicted four officers involved in the incident, charging them with aggravated assault and attempted murder.
Police on the night of June 4 had been pursuing someone else — Leo Pinkston, who had sped off from an attempted traffic stop.
Pinkston crashed into Feliz's car, which burst into flames.
Police, apparently believing Feliz was Pinkston, rescued him from the fire. Video of the incident appears to show police beating and stomping on Feliz, whose burning body they drag along the pavement.
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The video outraged many, including Mayor Steven Fulop, who vowed that the municipality would take action against the officers.
Police officials, however, defended the officers, saying that they had been trying to extinguish the man's flames.
Lt. Keith Ludwig was charged with second-degree aggravated assault, third-degree aggravated assault, and second-degree official misconduct.
Officer M.D. Khan was charged with first-degree attempted murder; two counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; three counts of second-degree aggravated assault; two counts of third-degree aggravated assault; fourth-degree aggravated assault; and second-degree official misconduct.
Khan previously had been charged with assaulting and robbing his brother-in-law last year, but a different grand jury declined to indict him.
Officer Eric Kosinski was charged with first-degree attempted murder; second-degree official misconduct; second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; second-degree aggravated assault; and third-degree aggravated assault.
Officer Francisco Rodriguez was charged with second-degree official misconduct; second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; second-degree aggravated assault; and third-degree aggravated assault.
The weapons charges stemmed from the officers' use of their service weapons during the vehicle chase.
Pinkston, 48, of Jersey City, is facing trial on charges of second-degree eluding police, second-degree aggravated assault while eluding, second-degree aggravated assault, and fourth-degree aggravated assault by auto.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.