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NJ Officers In Hospital After Cruisers Crash In Pursuit

Hospital Bed (credit: CBS 2)

Hospital Bed (credit: CBS 2)

FAIRFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two northern New Jersey police officers were hospitalized after their cruisers collided during a pursuit early Sunday.

Officials say the injuries sustained by Fairfield officer Gerald Veneziano — who had just recently returned to patrol duty after being shot in a road rage incident while he was off-duty last year — and Sgt. Christopher Oswald were not considered serious.

Deputy Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the crash occurred around 1:10 a.m.

At the time, Veneziano and Oswald were assisting Montville police in their pursuit of a speeding car that was headed toward Fairfield on westbound Route 46. The cruisers collided when the suspect, later identified as 27-year-old Taiwan Davis of Paterson, tried to leave the highway at a closed exit ramp.

Both Fairfield officers were taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital, where Oswald was treated for leg contusions and later released. Veneziano was admitted with undisclosed injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Davis, whose vehicle was not involved in the crash, was not injured and was later arrested by Montville police. He faces several charges, including eluding and drunken driving, and was also wanted on outstanding warrants.

Manna said Veneziano had only returned to patrol duty a few weeks ago after recovering from the wounds he sustained in the January 2010 road rage incident, which occurred as he was headed to police headquarters in his own car to start a night shift. Veneziano, who was not in uniform and not wearing a bulletproof vest, was shot multiple times in the head, chest and leg. He fired 13 rounds from his service weapon but didn’t hit the suspect, 24-year-old Preye L. Roberts, who fled the scene but was captured several days later.

Veneziano initially returned to work under modified duty last September, and was cleared for full duty about a month ago.

“This kid is a great officer. Couldn’t wait to come back to duty,” Manna told the newspaper. “A lot of people don’t return to duty after something like this happens.”

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