4 Jersey City officers indicted in police pursuit, fiery crash

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A Hudson County grand jury returned an indictment Thursday against four Jersey City police officers who were involved in a pursuit in June that ended in a fiery crash, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office announced in a news release.

Lt. Keith Ludwig was charged with three counts, MD Khan was charged with 13 counts, Officer Eric Kosinski was charged with five counts and Officer Francisco Rodriguez was charged with four counts.

All four face aggravated assault charges, while Khan and Kosinski also face an attempted murder charge.

According to the news release, the officers initiated a pursuit the night of June 4 after the driver of a vehicle refused to pull over for a traffic stop in the area of Ocean and Cator avenues in Jersey City.

The prosecutor’s office said the fleeing driver, 48-year-old Leo Pinkston, of Jersey City, was involved in several automobile crashes. Pinkston eventually crashed his vehicle into another vehicle being driven on Tonnelle Avenue. The vehicles collided with a utility pole, causing a fire and injuring the driver of the second vehicle, the press release said.

Video of the incident obtained by News 12 New Jersey showed the injured driver of the second vehicle exiting his car before the officers appeared to begin kicking him.

A police union official in June said the video clearly showed the officers acted quickly to help put out the flames.

The president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association released the following statement: "As it should be, this entire incident is being fully investigated. Taking swift action isn't always elegant, but this video clearly shows that the officers acted quickly to extinguish the flames and pull this man out of harm's way."

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop also released a statement that said, "As we stated at the outset, the actions taken that night required serious investigation. We took immediate and appropriate action and will now abide the judicial process.”

The statement continued, "Our internal investigation will now begin into all the actions or inactions of department members that night. We want the community to continue to have full confidence in the Jersey City Police Department and its officers."

The officers were suspended in the wake of the chase and fiery crash, but they were reinstated a few weeks later and placed on administrative duty.

But Jersey City spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill says that all four officers have now been suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the case.

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