Indicted officer: ‘My actions that day are the reason I’m talking right now’

Posted: Updated:

A Newark police officer indicted in a deadly shooting during a police chase says that his actions kept him and his fellow officers alive.

Jovanny Crespo is facing multiple charges including manslaughter, assault and misconduct in the January shooting of Gregory Griffin.

Crespo became involved in that chase as backup after another officer reported she saw a gun in the suspect’s vehicle. Crespo says he also saw the weapon. Crespo can be seen on police body camera firing his gun three different times at the car Griffin was driving, hitting him and a passenger who survived.

The Essex County prosecutor called his actions criminal. But Crespo's attorney and other supporters say that his actions were justified - especially given a heightened alert in Newark after a spike in shootings and violent crime that month.

RELATED: Grand jury indicts Newark police officer in deadly shooting during pursuit 
RELATED: Prosecutors probe Newark police shooting that killed 1, critically injured another 

“I knew I did the right thing…I’m going through all this, knowing that I could have died that day. So it’s either die or be here – I'd rather be here,” says Crespo. “My action that day is the reason I'm talking right now - if not, you'd be at my funeral.”

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is supporting Crespo and say that he is a hero.

“It takes a lot of courage to walk up on a car where you know there is a gun inside. You don't think, you know. And face that car three separate times…to protect the community and to protect his brother and sister officers,” says Defense Fund president Jason Johnson.

Investigators say that a gun was found inside Griffin’s vehicle.

A trial date has not yet been set.

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