Jersey City mayor vows to take action after video shows officers kicking, dragging innocent man on fire

Friday, June 09, 2017 04:06PM
Toni Yates reports on the fiery crash that led to officers dragging an innocent man on fire.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - The mayor of Jersey City is vowing to take action after cellphone video showed police officers kicking and dragging an innocent bystander who was on fire after a chase and fiery crash.

Mayor Steven Fulop said Thursday the officers shown in the video range in rank from sergeant to veterans and rookies, and said it was hard to defend some of the acts captured on camera.

"I think any reasonable person that looks at that video would say that those did not look like helpful hands," said Fulop. "And we're going to take it how we see it and we'll go through the process for termination, it's plain and simple."

The incident happened just after 11 p.m. Sunday as Jersey City police officers tried to stop the driver of a car near Ocean Avenue and Cator Avenue.

During the pursuit, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office said the fleeing driver was involved in two different crashes. In the first, officers fired shots at the driver as he tried to drive between two lanes of traffic, but they say the driver, 48-year-old Leo Pinkston, kept going.

Several blocks later, on Tonnelle Avenue, the fleeing driver crashed into a utility pole, causing a fire that somehow injured another driver in a different car.

It's apparently this driver, 28-year-old Miguel Feliz of West New York, who can be seen in the video (watch the graphic video in the player below). He gets out of his car and is on fire as officers approach him.
Watch the cellphone video below:
Raw: Video shows officers kicking man after fiery crash

In the video, the first officer goes up and kicks Feliz, knocking him down. Another officer appears to kick him as well.

The officers then drag him away from the fire scene, off the sidewalk and into the road. He was eventually hospitalized with severe burns.

Pinkston is now charged with aggravated assault and eluding after leading police on that late night chase.

A police union official said the video "clearly shows" the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames and pull the man to safety.

But Fulop called the images in the video "outrageous" and took issue with the union's statement, saying that while the dragging of Feliz could be explained as the officers' trying to get him away from the fire, what followed defied explanation.

"The kicking and the abuse that happened after, there's really no credible explanation that makes any sense whatsoever," Fulop said.

As of now, the officers involved have not been identified and the mayor would not comment as to whether they remain on active duty.

The mayor said the investigation has been referred to the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

A spokeswoman at the St. Barnabas Hospital burn unit said Thursday that Feliz was in critical condition.

Feliz has not totally regained consciousness at any point since the incident, his family says. They wonder what he knows about it.

"Until he wakes up and for his own sake realizes what happened, remembers what happened, then he'll be able to tell you in his own words, said his brother Ramon Feliz.

Many of Feliz's family members are keeping a vigil every day as he endures surgeries.

"He did get to open his eyes, he recognized me. I was able to speak to him and know that we are here, and I know he's gonna be OK," said Angeanette Munoz, the mother of Feliz's 6-year-old son.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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