4 police officers charged after kicking burning bystander
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Four New Jersey police officers were charged criminally Thursday over a June car chase that ended with officers kicking and dragging a burning bystander.
Prosecutors said a grand jury returned charges, including aggravated assault, against Jersey City police Lt. Keith Ludwig and officers M.D. Khan, Eric Kosinski and Francisco Rodriguez. Khan and Kosinski also are charged with attempted murder.
On June 4, the officers chased a man whose car resembled one used in a shooting. That car crashed, setting off a fire that engulfed a vehicle not involved in the chase. A video shows the driver of the second vehicle, Miguel Feliz, exiting his car with his clothes on fire before being kicked by the officers.
It wasn’t immediately known if the officers had attorneys to comment on their behalf. A police union official has said the officers tried to help Feliz.
The four officers were suspended without pay following the indictments, the city said.
“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,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. “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.”
Public Safety Director James Shea said in June that Ludwig, a 24-year veteran of the force, has an “excellent” record, and that the four officers, one of whom has been on the force for a year, “are average police officers.”
Shea said at least 20 officers were involved in some aspect of the response to the high-speed chase, which lasted for several miles. Several protocols were violated, he said, including the length of the chase, firing shots at a moving vehicle and placing a car as a roadblock without approval from a supervisor.
Ludwig “was the supervisor of the officers who started the chase, he was involved from the beginning and he allowed it to go on long after the point where, under the attorney general’s guidelines, he should have called it off,” Shea said.
The 48-year-old driver of the car police were chasing was charged in August with eluding police and aggravated assault while eluding.