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Closing arguments commence for Newark officer on trial for fatally shooting suspect

Jovanny Crespo’s attorney had one last chance to convince jurors of the officer’s innocence.

Matt Trapani and Chris Keating

Jun 20, 2023, 9:08 PM

Updated 364 days ago


Closing arguments were held Tuesday for the trial of a Newark police officer accused of fatally shooting a man during a high-speed chase in 2019.
Jovanny Crespo’s attorney had one last chance to convince jurors of the officer’s innocence. He pushed hard on the idea that Crespo was simply doing his job that night as a Newark police officer, suggesting that nothing Crespo did that evening in January 2019 – including the shooting of the two men during the chase – was an actual crime.
“Reasonable doubt? There’s enough reasonable doubt to drive a tractor-trailer through this case,” said defense attorney Patrick Toscano.
Toscano argued that Crespo was not only justified in shooting Gregory Griffin and Andrew Dixon that night, but he was saving his own life in doing so. Toscano reminded jurors that Crespo testified that he saw a gun pointed at him during the chase.
“Dixon points the weapon. No one proved he didn’t point the weapon. Once the weapon was pointed, ‘Good night, Irene,’” Toscano said.
Crespo is seen three different times during the chase jumping out of a patrol car and shooting at the speeding car. In the last view from his body camera, Crespo is seen shooting multiple times into the car.
Both men were shot in the head. Griffin died from his injuries.
Toscano finished his closing by saying, "This law enforcement officer saved lives that night. End of story."
But the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office sees it much differently. The state claims Crespo was reckless and broke the law on the use of force.
"The defendant did not have a special privilege to shoot Mr. Griffin and Mr. Dixon in the head just because it was the quicker and easier way to get them to stop,” said assistant prosecutor Alex Albu.
Albu went on to say that Crespo can't claim self-defense to justify his actions.
"He purposefully fired at them multiple times even though he was unauthorized and there was no imminent threat justifying his actions,” Albu said.
Albu told jurors that Crespo’s very own body camera videos show that he is guilty in this case.
Once closing arguments are finished, the jury will decide Crespo’s fate.
Crespo is charged with aggravated assault, as well as reckless manslaughter, among other charges.

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