Newark cop faces prison after shooting moving car, killing driver – New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio

Newark cop faces prison after shooting moving car, killing driver - New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio
New footage shows tense traffic stop that led now-indicted cop to fatally open fire on car
NEWARK — Body cam video of a fatal police pursuit that looks like a scene from an action movie could land a police officer behind bars for life.

An Essex County grand jury has handed up an indictment on manslaughter, assault and weapons charges against Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, who shot two suspects in the head during a wild car chase, killing one of them.

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Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stephens told NBC New York that Crespo's action showed a "reckless disregard for human life" that went against his police training.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Crespo's action during the Jan. 28 incident "raised concerns" almost immediately. He noted that a dozen other officers involved with the case acted professionally.

Grand jurors on Tuesday indicted Newark Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, of Newark, on charges including aggravated manslaughter after reviewing body camera evidence and hearing from Crespo himself. Crespo and his partner were among the bevy of officers who joined the pursuit.

"I think that is evidence that most of our officers understand the correct procedures, even in a high-adrenaline situation like this case, involving a car chase where police know a weapon is present," Ambrose said.

The Newark man killed in a police shooting in January repeatedly ignored police commands during a traffic stop before driving away, initiating the police pursuit that would end in his death, and four months later, the indictment of the officer who shot him.

Outside a Newark police awards lunch on Wednesday, James Stewart Jr., the president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, told PIX 11 that Crespo acted properly because his life was in danger and that he did a "great job.

Crespos body camera footage (below) shows him jumping out of a moving cruiser three times to run at the car and fire at it. After the first shooting, his partner driving the cruiser, Hector Ortiz, repeatedly tells him to relax and stay in the car.

During a police stop about 11:15 p.m. Jan. 28 at Thomas Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the South Broad Street section of Newark, Crespo said he saw a firearm inside a four-door black Chrysler 300.

At least four cruisers are actively pursuing the car, whizzing by one another at times. The final shooting took place at 54 Irvine Turner Boulevard, where video captured Crespo dragging the disoriented Dixon, who was shot in the face, out of the car.

The driver, Greg C. Griffin, 46, and passenger Andrew Dixon, 34, pulled away before backup arrived and Crespo followed, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

Griffin and Dixon were shot in the head during the pursuit; Griffin later died from his injuries. Dixon was charged with illegal possession of a weapon after police found a handgun in their vehicle.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the body camera video shows Crespo telling others that a man in the car pointed a gun at him and tried to run him over. Dixon was later charged with possessing a gun loaded with hollow-point bullets.

An Essex County grand jury this week indicted Crespo and prosecutors released copies of dashcam and bodycam video of the chase and shooting.

The new video (at the top of this story) shows Lopez stop the car around 11:15 p.m. at Clinton Avenue and Thomas Street. She tells the driver, Greg C. Griffin, 46, of Newark, to turn off the car. He only responds, Why?

With sirens blaring, lights flashing and engine racing, the video shows Crespo's vehicle following the Charger at high speed.

His attorney maintains the shooting was justified because Crespo says one of the men in the vehicle repeatedly pointed the gun at him. That isnt visible in the video, and police noted that the car had tinted windows.

When the police car gets in front of the Charger, Crespo opens the door and fires at it as the Charger speeds past.

In a statement to NJ Advance Media Wednesday, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Crespos actions immediately raised concerns and properly resulted in the grand jury presentation.

He gets back in the car and tells the other cop that "I think I shot him" and "he pointed the gun at me."

It should be noted that there were more than a dozen officers on the scene who acted professionally and appropriately and were not involved in the prosecutorial investigation, Ambrose said.

Crespo tells the officer behind the wheel to get in front of the Charger and that "you can use the car."

When the Charger stops, Crespo gets out and fires two more times. The Charger's passenger door opens and Crespo orders the passenger to get out of the car.

"Put the guns down," Crespo said as police and the two men in the car tussle and are ordered to get on the sidewalk.

The video shows a chaotic scene as roughly 20 officers surround the car, some with guns drawn, some ordering the driver, who is clearly unresponsive, to get out of the car.

The passenger appears to be attempting to escape on foot before two other officers move in holding their weapons.

Passenger Andrew Dixon complies, but Griffin keeps his right hand down near the gear shifter for approximately 20 seconds before placing it on the wheel, the video shows.

The state Attorney Generals New Jersey Police Vehicular Pursuit Policy says chases are supposed to be limited when they involve suspects wanted for the most serious crimes.

Deciding whether to pursue a motor vehicle is among the most critical decisions made by law enforcement officers. It is a decision which must be made quickly and under difficult, often unpredictable circumstances, the policy says.

Crespo is being held in protective custody in the Bergen County jail until a hearing Tuesday where the state will argue he should be detained pending trial.

The policy states: "Officers involved in a pursuit shall not fire any weapon from or at a moving vehicle nor engage in any vehicle contact action except as a last resort to prevent imminent death or serious injury to the officer or another person where deadly force would otherwise be justified."

Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Body cam video of a fatal police pursuit that looks like a scene from an action movie could land a police officer behind bars for life.\nRead More

NEWARK — Body cam video of a fatal police pursuit that looks like a scene from an action movie could land a police officer behind bars for life.

Another officers body camera later captured Dixon, lying on the ground asking, Why you shot me bro?

An Essex County grand jury has handed up an indictment on manslaughter, assault and weapons charges against Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, who shot two suspects in the head during a wild car chase, killing one of them.

Footage of the initial police stop was made public Thursday by the Essex County Prosecutors Office.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stephens told NBC New York that Crespos action showed a \”reckless disregard for human life\” that went against his police training.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Crespos action during the Jan. 28 incident \”raised concerns\” almost immediately. He noted that a dozen other officers involved with the case acted professionally.

\”I think that is evidence that most of our officers understand the correct procedures, even in a high-adrenaline situation like this case, involving a car chase where police know a weapon is present,\” Ambrose said.

Outside a Newark police awards lunch on Wednesday, James Stewart Jr., the president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, told PIX 11 that Crespo acted properly because his life was in danger and that he did a \”great job.

During a police stop about 11:15 p.m. Jan. 28 at Thomas Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the South Broad Street section of Newark, Crespo said he saw a firearm inside a four-door black Chrysler 300.

The driver, Greg C. Griffin, 46, and passenger Andrew Dixon, 34, pulled away before backup arrived and Crespo followed, the Essex County Prosecutors Office said.

Griffin and Dixon were shot in the head during the pursuit; Griffin later died from his injuries. Dixon was charged with illegal possession of a weapon after police found a handgun in their vehicle.

An Essex County grand jury this week indicted Crespo and prosecutors released copies of dashcam and bodycam video of the chase and shooting.

With sirens blaring, lights flashing and engine racing, the video shows Crespos vehicle following the Charger at high speed.

When the police car gets in front of the Charger, Crespo opens the door and fires at it as the Charger speeds past.

He gets back in the car and tells the other cop that \”I think I shot him\” and \”he pointed the gun at me.\”

Crespo tells the officer behind the wheel to get in front of the Charger and that \”you can use the car.\”

When the Charger stops, Crespo gets out and fires two more times. The Chargers passenger door opens and Crespo orders the passenger to get out of the car.

\”Put the guns down,\” Crespo said as police and the two men in the car tussle and are ordered to get on the sidewalk.

The passenger appears to be attempting to escape on foot before two other officers move in holding their weapons.

The state Attorney Generals New Jersey Police Vehicular Pursuit Policy says chases are supposed to be limited when they involve suspects wanted for the most serious crimes.

Deciding whether to pursue a motor vehicle is among the most critical decisions made by law enforcement officers. It is a decision which must be made quickly and under difficult, often unpredictable circumstances, the policy says.

The policy states: \”Officers involved in a pursuit shall not fire any weapon from or at a moving vehicle nor engage in any vehicle contact action except as a last resort to prevent imminent death or serious injury to the officer or another person where deadly force would otherwise be justified.\”

NEWARK — Body cam video of a fatal police pursuit that looks like a scene from an action movie could land a police officer behind bars for life.

An Essex County grand jury has handed up an indictment on manslaughter, assault and weapons charges against Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, who shot two suspects in the head during a wild car chase, killing one of them.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stephens told NBC New York that Crespo's action showed a "reckless disregard for human life" that went against his police training.

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said Crespo's action during the Jan. 28 incident "raised concerns" almost immediately. He noted that a dozen other officers involved with the case acted professionally.

"I think that is evidence that most of our officers understand the correct procedures, even in a high-adrenaline situation like this case, involving a car chase where police know a weapon is present," Ambrose said.

Outside a Newark police awards lunch on Wednesday, James Stewart Jr., the president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, told PIX 11 that Crespo acted properly because his life was in danger and that he did a "great job.”

During a police stop about 11:15 p.m. Jan. 28 at Thomas Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the South Broad Street section of Newark, Crespo said he saw a firearm inside a four-door black Chrysler 300.

The driver, Greg C. Griffin, 46, and passenger Andrew Dixon, 34, pulled away before backup arrived and Crespo followed, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

Griffin and Dixon were shot in the head during the pursuit; Griffin later died from his injuries. Dixon was charged with illegal possession of a weapon after police found a handgun in their vehicle.

An Essex County grand jury this week indicted Crespo and prosecutors released copies of dashcam and bodycam video of the chase and shooting.

With sirens blaring, lights flashing and engine racing, the video shows Crespo's vehicle following the Charger at high speed.

When the police car gets in front of the Charger, Crespo opens the door and fires at it as the Charger speeds past.

He gets back in the car and tells the other cop that "I think I shot him" and "he pointed the gun at me."

Crespo tells the officer behind the wheel to get in front of the Charger and that "you can use the car."

When the Charger stops, Crespo gets out and fires two more times. The Charger's passenger door opens and Crespo orders the passenger to get out of the car.

"Put the guns down," Crespo said as police and the two men in the car tussle and are ordered to get on the sidewalk.

The passenger appears to be attempting to escape on foot before two other officers move in holding their weapons.

The state Attorney General’s New Jersey Police Vehicular Pursuit Policy says chases are supposed to be limited when they involve suspects wanted for the most serious crimes.

“Deciding whether to pursue a motor vehicle is among the most critical decisions made by law enforcement officers. It is a decision which must be made quickly and under difficult, often unpredictable circumstances,” the policy says.

The policy states: "Officers involved in a pursuit shall not fire any weapon from or at a moving vehicle nor engage in any vehicle contact action except as a last resort to prevent imminent death or serious injury to the officer or another person where deadly force would otherwise be justified."


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