Man who caught fire in police confrontation has surgery

Posted: Updated:

The innocent bystander who caught fire and was dragged and kicked by police underwent a successful surgery, according to a family member.

Miguel Feliz suffered burns to his face, neck, back, arms and chest, his brother says, adding that the 28-year-old father faces a difficult recovery after surgery Thursday.

Controversy over Feliz's treatment by police has put law enforcement officials at odds with Mayor Steven Fulop.

"The police chase was against attorney general guidelines, the shooting was against attorney general guidelines, the interaction afterwards was against attorney general guidelines," Fulop says. "And it's on video. At what point do you take action?"

The video shows the moments after a fiery crash Sunday night. Police were chasing a driver on Tonnelle Avenue, during which police fired shots. The driver crashed into a utility pole where Feliz was also traveling, and the West New York resident somehow caught fire. Then police, guns drawn, are seen dragging and kicking Feliz.

Fulop says the officers seen in the video should be fired and criminally charged. But the county prosecutor calls that premature, saying, "there will be a swift and fair review of all the evidence being accumulated, but it would be irresponsible to rush to judgement."

Fulop says not all officers involved in the chase will face termination. But he say the city will move ahead with departmental charges and firing officers seen with Feliz in the video, regardless of any charges that could come from the prosecutor.

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