NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four Jersey City police officers face charges including attempted murder after they were seen on video kicking and dragging a man who was on fire and needed help after a high-speed chase ended in a fiery crash.
The crash happened June 4 on Route 1 and 9, Tonnelle Avenue. In the video, a man engulfed in flames can be seen frantically rolling from the wreckage.
Authorities said Jersey City police had been pursuing 48-year-old Leo Pinkston after trying to pull him over. Pinkston allegedly got into at least two crashes along the way, including one with a utility pole and Feliz, who was in another car.
With their guns drawn, police approach the man as he kneels and rips away clothing. Then one officer kicks him to the ground and at least one other joins in, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported. Eventually, police drag him into the street.
Witness Erik Roberto shot the cell phone video and says he was about to help that man on fire, 28-year-old Miguel Feliz, but stopped when he saw police.
Mayor Steven Fulop called the video “unacceptable.”
Officers Lt. Keith Ludwig, Officer Eric Kosinski, Officer Francisco Rodriguez and Officer MD Khan face several charges ranging from aggravated assault to attempted murder, according to the Hudson County prosecutor’s office.
But the police union is defending the officers and lashing out at Fulop.
“Mayor Fulop’s statements and actions over the last days, his decision not to allow for a thorough and fair investigation, show again that his thoughts are with politics and not policing,” said Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officer’s Benevolent Association.
Earlier, the union said the video “clearly shows that the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames, and pull this man out of harm’s way.”
The mayor said too many mistakes were made.
“From firing their weapons to the pursuit, to how they interacted with the victim, to having the wrong person,” he said, “It was just poor judgment after poor judgment. So I just think those are people that we don’t want on the Jersey City Police Department.”
A Hudson County Grand Jury previously returned an indictment against Pinkston in August, charging him with one count of eluding in violation and aggravated assault.
His next pretrial court appearance is scheduled for December 11 in Hudson County Superior Court.