In a new video of a fiery crash that critically injured a West New York man Sunday night, police officers are seen kicking and dragging the man — who sources say was a victim in the two-car wreck — into the roadway.
City officials said Wednesday morning they have “serious concerns” about how police handled the pursuit that began sometime around 11 p.m. in the Greenville section of the city and ended about six miles away with an innocent man fighting for his life.
The video, obtained by Univision and shared with The Jersey Journal, shows the 28-year-old man emerge from a burning car with parts of his body covered in flames. He is seen rolling on the ground to put out the flames. At the same time, more than half a dozen officers, many with their guns drawn, surround the man.
At least one cop in the video is seen forcefully kicking him in the head and neck area. Other officers are seen stomping on parts of his body.
Leo Pinkston, 48, has been charged with aggravated assault and eluding in the crash. Police fired multiple shots at Pinkston about a mile down the road before the crash.
“Our investigators have reviewed the video and we believe with certainty that this man is the bystander from West New York who suffered burns, not Leo Pinkston, the individual pursued by police,” Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a statement.
A friend of the victim, who asked not to be identified out of respect for the family, said the 28-year-old was driving home from work when he tried to avoid crashing with Pinkston’s speeding car.
In the moments after a car involved in a police pursuit crashed late Sunday night, fire began racing up a utility pole and completely engulfed the vehicle, cellphone video shows.
The victim is still in the hospital “fighting for his life” with multiple broken bones and second- and third-degree burns, the friend said. The victim also has a very swollen face, which his friend said he thought was odd. After seeing the latest video, he is certain the man is his friend.
“It was just shocking,” he said. “I didn’t think a fire could cause that.”
City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said the city is concerned about the way the pursuit was handled, and sources say it should have been called off at some point.
“We have serious concerns about the conduct of this pursuit, however, we are reserving judgment until the conclusion of the prosecutor’s investigation,” said Morrill, who declined to comment specifically on the video.
No cops have been suspended in connection with the chase, Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officer’s Benevolent Association, said. He criticized Public Safety Director Jim Shea’s decision to confiscate new police SUVs from the district’s involved in the pursuit.
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