Route 22 chase: Officer shoots driver charged with taking cop’s gun
UPDATE: Prosecutors released video of the traffic stop, chase and shooting. See it here. Original report is below.
MOUNTAINSIDE — A routine traffic stop on Friday turned into a car chase on Route 22 and a foot chase through a neighborhood before a police officer shot the fleeing driver who briefly disarmed him, officials said.
Police in Union Township pulled over 32-year-old Lester Krek on the highway about 2:15 p.m. But Krek took off, Union County prosecutors said Saturday.
Krek crashed his truck a short time later in Mountainside. Krek ran from the truck and was pursued by police on foot, officials said.
Prosecutors said a Union Township police sergeant found Krek on the 1600 block of Larkspur Drive.
Officials say Krek fought the officer and managed to grab the officer's gun before the officer took control and shot Krek in the torso.
Prosecutors on Saturday said the suspect and the officer were taken to University Hospital in Newark with non-life-threatening injuries.
Krek is charged with second-degree disarming a police officer, second-degree eluding police and third-degree resisting arrest.
It is not clear why Krek fled the traffic stop. The only charges the Linden resident was facing Saturday are related to the pursuit and the altercation with the officer in Mountainside.
Krek has no record of felony convictions in the state.
Neighbors told ABC 7 Eyewitness News that they were startled as the man ran through several backyards with police close behind.
Hector Vernon told PIX 11 as many as 15 police officers were chasing the driver on foot and searching in a wooded area.
The pursuit and the shooting are under review by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Shooting Response Team as part of a routine investigation into police-involved shootings.
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