The lawyer defending a Newark police officer facing criminal charges for his actions during a fatal police chase in January said prosecutors are not telling the public everything about the confrontation.

An Essex County grand jury in May handed up indictments on manslaughter, assault and weapons charges against Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, who shot two suspects in the head during a wild car chase, killing one of them.

Crespo's attorney, Patrick Toscano, on Wednesday accused the Essex County Prosecutor's Office of leaving out important information from a news release about the police video and the chase, including that driver Greg C. Griffin, 46, drove at speeds up to 70 mph on the sidewalk and that he had stolen his girlfriend's car after beating her up that night, according to,

Toscano said Griffin was not going to stop and Crespo believed Griffin was going to shoot the first cop who pulled him over.

Crespo's  actions have been criticized by Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose who said Crespo's actions "raised concerns." He noted that a dozen other officers involved with the case acted professionally.

"I think that is evidence that most of our officers understand the correct procedures, even in a high-adrenaline situation like this case, involving a car chase where police know a weapon is present," Ambrose said.

Crespo said his actions saved lives and he would do the same thing again.

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is paying Crespo's legal bills

The LELDF said Crespo also helped keep drugs off the street.

"Found within the car was heroin destined for the streets of Newark and a handgun loaded with illegal hollow-point bullets," LELFF said in a statement.

Crespo is free pending his trial and was ordered to turn in his weapons.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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