JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A Jersey City police officer was sentenced today for beating an innocent bystander following a fiery crash in 2017.
Hudson County prosecutors said police were chasing Leo Pinkston back on June 4, 2017.
Officers opened fire on Pinkston’s vehicle, causing him to crash into another car, driven by Miguel Feliz, and a utility pole.
Witness video showed the officers drag Feliz into the street with guns drawn and kick him while he was on fire.
“I was screaming, ‘help him out, help him out!’” said witness Erik Roberto, who shot the video. “They made a huge mistake treating this guy that way. And he wasn’t the one they was chasing.”
Four officers were charged and took plea deals in the case. They agreed to give up their jobs and were barred from public employment.
“A police officer who is supposed to help, who is supposed to, in a time like this, know what to do comes over and instead of helping, ends up assaulting him as he is on fire,” prosecutor Karyn Darish said.
The prosecution read a letter from the victim in court Thursday.
“The physical and emotional pain you guys put my family and myself have been very hard on all of us. You guys treated me worse than a dog that night,” Darish read.
Former Officer MD Khan was sentenced to three years probation on aggravated assault charges. The other three officers agreed to enter pre-trial intervention and will not be sentenced.
“He’s remorseful about the situation, he’s expressed to me that he does not want to speak,” said Khan’s lawyer Daniel Walsh.
Jersey City Mayor Mayor Steven Fulop called the incident “unacceptable.”
“The video kinda speaks for itself. Any reasonable person seeing the video would say they’re not trying to be helpful,” he said at the time.
Feliz ended his letter saying he forgives the officers so that he can live in peace and hopes they have all learned a lesson.