HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A wild police chase on the streets of New Jersey is now taking center stage in a lawsuit filed against Bergen County. It’s the officers’ actions that are the subject of an investigation.
The Aug. 17, 2010, chase took cops through six towns. Two men in a black SUV are seen on video fleeing the scene of a botched burglary. They speed through residential streets, weave through traffic and barely miss cars, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
At one point, they swerve to avoid a police cruiser. The video was captured from the patrol car of two Bergen officers who were pursuing them. The video shows the suspects finally stopping after being hit by another car. That’s when one of the officers is heard firing his weapon as a suspect runs into the woods.
Now, now one of the suspects, Francesco Piserchia, 36, who is seen in custody on the video, is suing the Bergen County police for $17 million, alleging that he was surrendering when the officer opened fire.
Residents CBS 2’s Sloan spoke to said they were shocked.
“Absurd, absolutely absurd. You’re a police officer. You put your life on the line. Right, you’re chasing him; what happens if he turns around?” said Daniel Gilligan of Hackensack.
“This is the kind of litigious society we live and even if you’re wrong — and someone else violates — you have the right to do that,” added Glenn Wilson of Hackensack.
Now, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli’s Office is using the video to investigate the two officers — not for the use of force, but on allegations they tampered with the crime scene and removed evidence.
The Bergen County executive, whose office oversees the county police, declined to comment, saying there’s an ongoing investigation.
The case is also the subject of a lawsuit filed by the former head of Internal Affairs at the county police. He has alleged evidence tampering and concealment, CBS 2’s Sloan reported.
His attorney said his client’s allegations of concealment in a $3 million lawsuit against the county refer to the Piserchia case.
For now, no one’s talking, not even the prosecutor.
CBS 2 was unable to get comment from the officer, and the attorney representing the suspect.
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