NEW YORK — Four Jersey City, New Jersey police officers face charges including attempted murder after they were seen on video kicking and dragging a driver who was on fire after a suspect in high-speed chase hit his car, reports CBS New York.
Authorities said Jersey City police had been pursuing 48-year-old Leo Pinkston on June 4 after trying to pull him over. Pinkerton allegedly crashed into a utility pole and a car driven by 28-year-old Miguel Feliz.
The crash apparently ignited a blaze and video shot by a witness shows Feliz, who was not involved in the initial pursuit, engulfed in flames and rolling from the wreckage. With their guns drawn, police approach Feliz as he kneels and rips away his clothing. One officer kicks him to the ground and at least one other joins in, then several drag him into the street.
Witness Erik Roberto shot the cell phone video and told CBS New York he was about to help Feliz, but stopped when he saw police.
Mayor Steven Fulop called the video "unacceptable."
The station reports that Officers Lt. Keith Ludwig, Officer Eric Kosinski, Officer Francisco Rodriguez and Officer MD Khan face charges ranging from aggravated assault to attempted murder, according to the Hudson County prosecutor's office.
But the police union is defending the officers.
"Mayor Fulop's statements and actions over the last days, his decision not to allow for a thorough and fair investigation, show again that his thoughts are with politics and not policing," said Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officer's Benevolent Association.
Earlier, the union said the video "clearly shows that the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames, and pull this man out of harm's way."
The mayor said too many mistakes were made.
"From firing their weapons to the pursuit, to how they interacted with the victim, to having the wrong person," he said, "it was just poor judgment after poor judgment. So I just think those are people that we don't want on the Jersey City Police Department."
A Hudson County Grand Jury previously returned an indictment against Pinkston in August, charging him with one count of eluding in violation and aggravated assault.
His next pretrial court appearance is scheduled for December 11 in Hudson County Superior Court.