Jersey City, NJ - After Jersey City police officers were recorded on video at the end of a fiery pursuit, the media spin got so out of control that the Jersey City mayor has promised the termination and criminal charges against the officers before any investigation was done or the officers were even identified (video of incident below.)
On Sunday night at around 11:15 PM, officer responded to a call of shots fired, according to CBS New York.
The responding officers located a vehicle fleeing from the scene at a high rate of speed and the officers pursued the suspect. Details during the pursuit are still sketchy, but the driver was endangering other people's lives and at some point shots were fired.
The pursuit ended when the vehicle crashed into another car. Both cars then crashed into a utility car and burst into flames.
The officers approached the scene to find a man on fire running out of the flames. Potentially dealing with a suspect who was believed to be armed, officers approached him and gave him orders at gunpoint.
If the officers had more time, they could have continued to try to give the man verbal commands until it appeared safe for them to approach. However, if the officers stood back while the man was on fire, then he would just burn to death.
With no time to spare and faced with someone believed to be an armed suspect who was on fire, the first officer kicked the man to the ground and other officers began stomping and dragging their feet to put out the burning clothing.
Then, instead of handcuffing and walking the man back to their patrol car like they would in a safer scene, officers dragged the man to safety first.
Afterwards, they determined that the man on fire was an occupant of another vehicle that the suspect had crashed into.
The suspect fled the scene on foot and was later taken into custody.
That's not how local news station ABC7 reported it.
The news station sold the story as police officers kicking an innocent bystander in the head and brutally stomping on him for having the nerve to be on fire.
CeFaan Kim reported, "You see at least one cop in the video kicking him in the head as he lay there injured. Other officers are seen stomping on other parts of his body..."
The video actually appears to show that the officer kicked the man's body to knock him down and officers were trying to stomp out parts of the man's clothing which were on fire.
The heroic actions taken by theses officers to save the man's life, even when they reasonably believed he was an armed suspect, were transformed to outrageous and unjustified police brutality. The news station even tagged it as police brutality.
ABC7 wasn't alone, with WQAD throwing in quips to their reporting like, "It's unclear why the officers decided to kick the man instead of helping him."
With the media's unsubstantiated claims about what happened, the city responded that they would be seeking the termination of all officers involved, and seeking criminal charges, as soon as they find out who the officers are.
Jersey City spokesperson Jennifer Morrill issued a statement saying, "We are working with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office and are in the process of identifying the officers on this video. Once we clearly identify all the officers involved, we will be seeking termination in addition to any possible criminal penalties in appropriate cases."
“Look, we have a high standard for the police department," said Mayor Fulop. "They do a tremendous job. We’re not going to let just a few bad apples be a reflection on the entire police department or the entire city. We’re going to be aggressive with them."
Now that everybody is spun up, the police union will be fighting the allegations.
Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officer Union, told PIX11, "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."
You can see the video of the incident below: