A video released on Wednesday that appears to show a police officer in New Jersey kicking a man shortly after he emerged, in flames, from a car accident has added a new dimension to an investigation into a police shooting.
The footage captured what may have been a case of mistaken identity. The man who came out from the flaming wreck was not the suspect who had just led Jersey City police on a miles-long car chase through the city on Sunday night, according to the Hudson County prosecutor’s office.
In a graphic video first released by Univision, the man, Miguel Feliz-Rodriguez, 28, appeared to be rolling on the sidewalk in an attempt to extinguish the fire that engulfed his torso. Esther Suarez, the county prosecutor, said he was an “innocent victim.”
The bystander filming the scene, Erik Roberto, 36, can be heard shouting: “Help him out! Help him out!” as a group of police officers approached Mr. Feliz.
Instead, one of the officers, whose gun was drawn, appeared to kick Mr. Feliz in the head.
After that, “they were dragging him to the street like he was an animal,” Mr. Roberto said in a phone interview. “I don’t think any human being should be treated in that way.”
The Hudson County prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the episode before the video was released, as is common practice in cases of officer-involved shootings; the police had fired at the suspect, Leo Pinkston, during their pursuit. Mr. Pinkston is said to have caused at least one other car accident before crashing into Mr. Feliz. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said he could not comment on whether Mr. Pinkston was injured by any of the shots fired.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Jacey Fortin