Newark Cop Charged in Traffic Stop Shooting That Left 1 Man Dead

According to prosecutors, this is the first fatal police-involved shooting to result in an indictment in Essex County in recent memory

What to Know

  • A Newark cop will face criminal charges after a Jan. 28 traffic stop lead to a shooting that left one man dead, prosecutors announced
  • The Essex County Prosecutor's Office held a press conference Tuesday evening to announce that officer Jovanny Crespo was indicted
  • Two Newark men in the car, 35-year-old Andrew Dixon and 46-year-old Gregory Griffin, were shot. Griffin died the next day

WARNING: The footage is violent and some viewers may find it disturbing.

A Newark police officer is facing manslaughter charges as New Jersey prosecutors say he shot and killed a man fleeing a traffic stop earlier this year. 

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office announced Jovanny Crespo, 26, was indicted on multiple charges including aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault and two each of counts of second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and official misconduct.

The indictment came almost three months after Crespo was suspended without pay as an investigation was launched. 

Attorney information for the Crespo was not immediately clear. 

If convicted of all counts, Crespo could face life in prison.

Although a detention hearing has not been scheduled, Crespo is likely to make his first court appearance Wednesday or Thursday.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office presented the case to a grand jury following a review of the incident.

On Tuesday, prosecutors said Crespo acted in a "criminal" way and his actions were not in line with his training.

"He showed a reckless disregard for human life by shooting into a moving vehicle — a vehicle which had heavily tinted windows," Acting Essex County Prosecutor Stephens said.

In late January, prosecutors said a preliminary investigation indicated that Newark police tried to stop a vehicle but the driver didn't stop, and "shots were fired by one police officer at three separate locations."

Two Newark men in the car, 35-year-old Andrew Dixon and 46-year-old Gregory Griffin, were shot. Griffin died the next day.

A loaded semi-automatic handgun was found in the vehicle.

Prosecutors say that Crespo was not the original officer to make the traffic stop in the area of Clinton Avenue and Thomas Street, but rather a female officer. However, when Griffin allegedly fled the stop, she radioed that he was fleeing and that she saw a gun, which lead to a pursuit involving numerous police cars, prosecutors say.

Crespo fired shots at the fleeing car at three separate locations, according to prosecutors. The vehicle then stopped in the area of Irvine Turner Boulevard, near Kinney Street.

No police officers were injured, prosecutors said, adding no other police officers discharged their weapons.

According to prosecutors, this is the first fatal police-involved shooting to result in an indictment in Essex County in recent memory.

Prosecutors released body camera (which can be seen below) and dash camera video, as well as dispatch audio related to the police chase and shooting.

In Crespo's body camera video footage, you can hear someone, presumambly Crespo, telling the other officer in the police car at one point, "I think I shot him. I seen a gun. He pointed a gun at me" once he enters the car after firing at the vehicle involved in the pursuit.

Body camera video shows Crespo fired at the car on three different occassions — the last almost at point blank range. 

Later on the body camera video, after the pursuit, Crespo tells other police officers that he shot both of the men.

Following the indictment, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka issued a statement that said: “The indictment of Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo is a sad day for our city and our police department, and the families of the two victims. We are under a consent decree and this shows that when police officers break the law, they will be held to the same standards as all others, particularly at a time when justice in incidents involving the police is not happening around the country."

Baraka's statement goes on to say that the indictment "also shows how important it is that the police are equipped with body cameras and that they use them."

He also said that the indictment is "evidence of the transparency we have worked to establish in Newark and is critical to continuing to build trust between our police and the community.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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