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Video shows an innocent bystander being beaten by Jersey City officers moments after he was on fire, prosecutors say
The bystander's family told News 4 that he has severe burns and fractured ribs; they say he was just heading to work
A union representing Jersey City police said the officers were trying to put out the flames and pull the man to safety
Four Jersey City police officers have been indicted on charges ranging from aggravated assault to attempted murder, prosecutors said Thursday, months after shocking video emerged showing them kicking and dragging a flaming bystander following a car chase and fiery crash.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said that a grand jury had returned an indictment against Lt. Keith Ludwig, MD Khan and officers Eric Kosinski and Francisco Rodriguez in the case of the June 4 beatdown.
All are charged with aggravated assault and official misconduct. All but Ludwig are accused of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and Kosinski and Khan face charges of attempted murder.
Officers had been trying to stop a vehicle near Ocean and Cator avenues in Jersey City late that night; the driver, Leo Pinkston, fled and the cops gave chase. Pinkston was involved in a number of crashes during the pursuit, and multiple shots were fired. Eventually, he crashed into a vehicle on Tonnelle Avenue, leading to a collision with a utility pole that sparked a major fire and injured the driver of the other vehicle, bystander Miguel Feliz.
When Feliz got out of his car, the four Jersey City officers descended on him, kicking and dragging him in apparent belief he was the man they had been chasing. The June 4 video showed Miguel Feliz, on fire, exiting his car before being kicked by the officers. Feliz was hospitalized in critical condition with severe burns and broken ribs after the encounter, his family said.
The four officers were suspended in late June, then had their jobs reinstated, though they were on administrative duty, not active patrol. Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill told NorthJersey.com at the time that federal investigators had asked the department not to bring departmental charges against the men pending a federal investigation.
Attorney information for the officers wasn't immediately available. Previously, a union representative had said they were trying to put the flames out and pull Feliz to safety. At the time, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said the video appeared to contradict that claim and demanded he be fired.
Pinkston also faces a number of charges in connection with the pursuit.