New Jersey Cop Found Guilty After Shooting 2 During Police Chase

Officer Jovanny Crespo of the Newark Police Department was found guilty on Wednesday on all charges related to a shooting incident that took place during a high-speed car chase.

The jury unanimously convicted Crespo on six counts, including aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, official misconduct, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

The incident occurred on the night of January 28, 2019, when Officer Valderia Sanchez initiated a traffic stop on Gregory C. Griffin, who was driving a Chrysler 300 with Andrew J. Dixon as the passenger. Body camera footage revealed that Sanchez noticed a firearm near the driver and instructed Griffin to turn off the vehicle’s engine and raise his hands. However, Griffin failed to comply with the officer’s commands and instead accelerated, prompting Sanchez to call for backup.

Officer Crespo joined the pursuit, riding as a passenger while his partner, Hector Ortiz, drove the patrol car. The ensuing car chase, captured on police body cameras, reached speeds of nearly 50 mph as Crespo jumped out of the vehicle on three occasions, firing his weapon each time. His shots missed their intended targets.

The chase ultimately led to a residential area on Irvine Turner Boulevard, where Crespo approached the passenger side of the Chrysler, which had its door slightly ajar. Video evidence revealed that Crespo fired two shots into the vehicle, striking both Griffin and Dixon in the head. Griffin succumbed to his injuries, while Dixon initially survived but later died in a separate car accident.

The jury’s verdict found Crespo guilty on all charges, including aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, official misconduct, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The gravity of his offenses could lead to a prison sentence ranging from 10 to 30 years for aggravated manslaughter alone. Additionally, he may face up to 10 years for aggravated assault and an additional five to 10 years for official misconduct.

The case was presented to the grand jury by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which asserted that Crespo had never faced any “imminent danger” and his decision to open fire three times was unjustified and unauthorized.

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