New Jersey police may face charges after a man on fire who they kicked and subdued turned out not to be the suspect in a Jersey City car chase on Sunday night.
The unbelievable incident was caught on video.
Prosecutors say police were attempting to apprehend Leo Pinkston, 48, of Jersey City, NJ. He refused to stop for police and lead them on a six-mile chase that ended in a fiery crash.
But before the smoke cleared, officers rushed to the first person they saw climbing out of the wreck: Miguel Feliz, 28, who was a bystander.
Tragically, police mistook one for the other.
In the video, they move in on Feliz — who is on fire! — and kick him once he’s extinguished his burning clothes, dragging him into the street and arresting him.
Pinkston was also apprehended.
As Feliz remains in critical condition and awaiting surgery, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says his office will pursue “termination and criminal charges where appropriate.”
“The video kinda speaks for itself. Any reasonable person seeing the video would say they’re not trying to be helpful,” he told CBS New York.
Fulop cited a number of issues with the chase, not just the ending.
The incident had a six-mile chase throughout Jersey City, and there’s protocols on that. They fired their weapons from their car at another moving vehicle, and there are issues with that. There are issues with how they continued the chase after receiving additional information, and obviously there are issues around what you see on the video.Advertisement
Feliz has been cleared of any wrongdoing, while Pinkston faces charges of eluding arrest and aggravated assault.
The Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association represents Jersey City police. In a statement, President Carmine Disbrow defended the officers’ actions, saying “Taking swift action isn’t always elegant, but this video clearly shows that the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames, and pull this man out of harm’s way.”