NEWARK, NJ - A city cop involved in a police shooting which killed one man and injured another during a Jan. 28 police pursuit has been suspended as the Essex County Prosecutors Office investigates the incident.
The shooting will be presented to a grand jury for possible criminal charges, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II announced today.
“The investigation is active and ongoing, but the evidence gathered, so far, raises serious questions about the officer’s conduct,” Stephens said in a statement.
Although Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said transparency was paramount in police-involved shootings in order to maintain community trust, the officer’s name was not released. A public safety spokeswoman said the officer’s name was not disclosed for “officer safety.”
“We have concerns about this shooting and will cooperate fully with the Essex County Prosecutor's investigation,” Ambrose said in a statement. “All of the body and dashboard camera recordings have been handed over to (the) prosecutor.”
The officer who was suspended has been with the Newark Police Division for 18 months, according to the public safety department.
The officer’s name was not stated in a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office either.
“Generally speaking we do not release the name of police officers or anyone else unless they have been charged with a crime. At this point, he has not been charged with a crime,” ECPO spokeswoman Katherine Carter told TAPinto Newark.
Greg C. Giffin, a 46-year-old Newark resident, who the city’s public safety department said was the driver of the vehicle that was shot upon, died at University Hospital. Andrew Dixon, a 34-year-old passenger of the vehicle, was taken to the same hospital. His status was upgraded from critical to stable condition, the city’s public safety department said.
The shooting occurred after an unidentified city police officer attempted to stop a car that was allegedly driving erratically in the area of Pennsylvania Avenue and Thomas Street, the prosecutor's office said.
The officer allegedly observed a firearm inside the vehicle and radioed for backup, the public safety department said. The vehicle allegedly drove off before additional officers arrived, the department added.
A pursuit involving multiple police vehicles eventually ensued, the prosecutor's office said. One of the officers that joined the chase allegedly fired multiple gunshots, hitting both the driver and the passenger of the vehicle in the head, the prosecutor's office said.
The vehicle that allegedly sped away was fired upon by one officer at three locations before the car came to a stop at Irvine Turner Boulevard and West Kinney Street, the public safety department said.
A loaded semi-automatic handgun was allegedly found in the car that sped off, the public safety department said.
Dixon, of Newark, was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a prohibited weapon, the public safety department said in a release.
The investigation into the suspended officer is being conducted by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Standards Bureau. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Professional Standards Bureau at 862-520-3700.
“Serious investigations, as always, have been handled in a thorough and competent manner by this office for many years and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is ready, willing and able to represent the public in the interest of justice,’’ Stephens, the acting county prosecutor, said in a statement.