NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo woke up behind bars Wednesday, accused of aggravated manslaughter and assault for shooting two suspects during an incident caught on police body cams.
Prosecutors say his actions, which left one man dead, were criminal, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported.
The gunshots and tense moments captured on video led to the arrest of Crespo, who was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday.
“It is the state’s position that this officer’s conduct that night was criminal. He showed a reckless disregard for human life by shooting into a moving vehicle,” Theodore Stephens, the acting Essex County prosecutor, said.
On Wednesday, the head of the Newark police union spoke out about the arrest.
“Officer Crespo has been involved in numerous gun arrests in his brief career, and his is one of the reasons crime is down in Newark, and Newark citizens are safer than they have been in the past,” said James Stewart Jr., president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 12. “The Newark FOP fully supports him, and his family, and we look forward to the next step in this process.”
Back on Jan. 28, another officer radioed for help with a vehicle after it fled during a traffic stop. Gregory Griffin was the driver and his passenger, Andrew Dixon, had a gun, according to prosecutors.
“That led to a pursuit involving a number of Newark police cars. The police vehicle in which Crespo was the passenger was the closest to the fleeing car,” Stephens said.
Prosecutors say the police body and dash cam videos tell the rest of the story. They said Crespo can be seen firing his gun at the suspect’s car at three different locations. At first, he fires three shots. The second time, Officer Crespo appears to shoot directly at the driver’s side window.
“I seen the gun… he pointed the gun at me. Bro, he pointed the gun right at me,” the officer is heard saying.
The final time, the chase comes to an end as video shows Crespo running to the passenger-side door and firing more shots.
Inside the car, prosecutors say both men were shot in the head. Griffin died the next day. The passenger survived, CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported. Crespo can be heard telling other officers what happened: “Yo, I shot both of them… He pointed his gun at me… He started pointing the gun at me.”
At one point an officer appears to gesture at him to stay quiet. Prosecutors say their investigation is ongoing, but Crespo faces life in prison if convicted on six counts, including aggravated manslaughter.
“The state alleges and it’s our position that the officer’s conduct was not consistent with the training that he received,” Stephens said.
“The chief and I did watch this video, early on the next day,” Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “Office Crespo took the actions he did and he’ll have to explain that.”
Crespo, who has been with the department for roughly two years, is suspended from the force and will remain in custody until a detention hearing later this week, Gainer reported.