VIDEO: Officer Facing Manslaughter Charges For Shooting At Gunman During Pursuit
Newark, NJ – A police officer is facing six felony charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his life after a wild police chase through the streets of Newark (video below).
The incident occurred on Jan. 28 after a female Newark police officer initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by 46-year-old Gregory Griffin, FOX News reported.
The officer put it out over the radio that Griffin had fled the traffic stop and that he had a gun, and a pursuit began that involved multiple police cars.
Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, was one in one of the police cars that responded, according to FOX News.
Authorities recently released his bodycam video from the incident.
The video showed Officer Crespo was a passenger and his partner was driving when they joined the chase and then encountered the suspect vehicle.
Officer Crespo tried to jump out to engage the suspect, but the car took off again.
So Officer Crespo and his partner rejoined the pursuit and then the video showed Officer Crespo told his partner, who was driving, to cut off the black suspect vehicle they were following.
“Get in front of it,” Officer Crespo ordered his partner.
When they caught up with Griffin less than a minute later, Officer Crespo jumped out of the police car and ran around the back of it to get to the suspect vehicle, the video showed.
But the suspect vehicle took off before he could get there.
Officer Crespo fired two shots at the back of the retreating vehicle, the video showed.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” the officer called out and then jumped back into the patrol unit as his partner pulled up next to him.
They followed Griffin’s car until they caught up with it again.
Officer Crespo tried to jump out of his moving police vehicle before it stopped and earned a rebuke from his partner, who told him several times to “relax,” the video showed.
Then the police car stopped beside, and slightly in front of, the suspect vehicle and Officer Crespo jumped out of the car right next to the driver’s door.
The suspect vehicle fled again, and once again, Officer Crespo opened fire, first at the driver’s side car windows and then at the back of the fleeing vehicle, the video showed.
Then the video showed he jumped back into his police unit as his partner took off in pursuit of the black car, yet again.
“I think I shot him,” Officer Crespo told his partner. “I seen a gun.”
“Relax, relax, relax,” his partner told him.
“He pointed a gun at me. Bro, he pointed the gun right at me,” Officer Crespo said.
About that time, they caught up with car they were chasing, again, and Officer Crespo wanted to jump out. But his partner wouldn’t slow down and stop for him immediately, the video showed.
“He’s gonna hop out,” he warned the officer driving.
Seconds later, the video showed Officer Crespo opened his door while the car was still moving and yelled “stop” at his partner.
His partner stopped the car and Officer Crespo jumped out and ran up to the suspect vehicle, approaching it on the passenger side, the video showed.
“Stop the car,” Officer Crespo yelled as he approached.
In the video, it looked as if the passenger’s door was already open and then the passenger attempted to pull it closed, just as Officer Crespo opened fire for a third time in two-and-a-half minutes.
He fired two shots, one of which passed through the passenger’s window into the car, the video showed.
Then Officer Crespo pulled open the passenger’s door and ordered the passenger to get out of the car.
Other officers swarmed the car and assisted in pulling 35-year-old Andrew Dixon out of the passenger seat, the video showed.
Griffin, behind the wheel, didn’t appear to be moving in the video.
In the chaos that ensued, bodycam picked up Officer Crespo as he told fellow officers “I shot him in the head” and “I shot both of them.”
Both Griffin and Dixon were shot in the head, FOX News reported.
Griffin died the next day and Dixon remains hospitalized and “not in good shape,” prosecutors told NBC News.
No officers were injured during the incident.
Police found a loaded handgun inside the car, and Dixon has been charged with possession of an illegal gun, The New York Times reported.
Officer Crespo, who has been with the Newark Police Department for less than two years, was the only officer who fired a weapon during the chase, FOX News reported.
“It is the state’s position that this officer’s conduct that night was criminal,” Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens told reporters during a press conference to announce the indictment on May 21. “He showed a reckless disregard for human life by shooting into a moving vehicle, a vehicle which had heavily tinted windows.”
The New Jersey Attorney General’s use-of-force policy says that officers can use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect if the suspect “will pose an imminent danger of death of serious bodily harm should the escape succeed,” FOX News reported.
It also says the officers can only do so if it “presents no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons.”
A grand jury indicted Officer Crespo and he was charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and two counts of official misconduct, FOX News reported.
The officer was taken into custody on May 21 and held in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, according to NBC News.
Watch the pursuit as it unfolded in the video below: