NJ cops charged with beating innocent man on fire, shooting during speed chase
JERSEY CITY — Four Jersey City police officers are facing a long list of serious criminal charges in connection with a June incident in which they were caught on video pummeling an innocent man who had caught on fire.
The officers gave chase to a suspect about 11 p.m. June 4 after he sped off during an attempted traffic stop on Ocean and Cator avenues.
During the high-speed chase, officers fired at the vehicle, which crashed into other cars during the pursuit.
One of the cars the suspect crashed into on Tonnelle Avenue burst into flames after running into a utility pole.
The innocent driver of that vehicle got out, covered in flames. Officers are seen in a video kicking and dragging that man.
The video brought a strong condemnation against the officers from Mayor Steve Fulop. The mayor was criticized by police union officials who defended the cops, saying that they had been trying to put out the flames on the man.
A Hudson County grand jury, however, found enough evidence to bring charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder against the officers. Three of the officers also were indicted on unlawful weapons possession charges for use of their service weapons during the chase
All four have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of their criminal cases.
Fulop on Thursday said that the department's internal investigation will continue.
"As we stated at the outset, the actions taken that night required serious investigation. We took immediate and appropriate action and will now abide the judicial process," he said in a prepared statement sent to New Jersey 101.5. "Our internal investigation will now begin into all the actions or inactions of department members that night. We want the community to continue to have full confidence in the Jersey City Police Department and its officers."
Carmine Disbrow, president of the Police Officers Benevolent Association, said Thursday that the officers, like every American, "deserve to avail of their right to a day in court."
“We won’t let this be a distraction to the other important issues that we have been discussing and will once again bring to the forefront at tomorrow’s historic rally with the Jersey City NAACP."
Lt. Keith Ludwig was charged with second-degree aggravated assault, third-degree aggravated assault, and second-degree official misconduct.
Officer M.D. Khan was charged with first-degree attempted murder; two counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; three counts of second-degree aggravated assault; two counts of third-degree aggravated assault; fourth-degree aggravated assault; and second-degree official misconduct.
Officer Eric Kosinski was charged with first-degree attempted murder; second-degree official misconduct; second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; second-degree aggravated assault; and third-degree aggravated assault.
Officer Francisco Rodriguez was charged with second-degree official misconduct; second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose; second-degree aggravated assault; and third-degree aggravated assault.
The suspect they had been chasing, Leo C. Pinkston, 48, of Jersey City, was indicted last month on charges of second-degree eluding police, second-degree aggravated assault while eluding, second-degree aggravated assault, and fourth-degree aggravated assault by auto.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.