In a new video of a blazing car accident that left a New York man seriously injured Sunday night, police officers are seen striking and pulling the man — who bystanders claim was a victim in the two-car crash — into the street. Several blocks later on Tonnelle Avenue, the fleeing driver crashed into a utility pole, sparking a fire injuring another driver in a different car.
The cellphone video, acquired by Univision and distributed to The Jersey Journal, shows the 28-year-old man exit a burning car with a portion his body on fire. The video shows him rolling around on the ground in an attempt to extinguish the flames. During this time, more than six officers, some with their guns out, circled the man.
While the police were in pursuit of the car, the driver they were chasing had been part of two separate car accidents. During the initial incident, police fired shots at the driver as he tried to position himself between two lanes of traffic. The driver continued to accelerate, the Hudson County Prosecutors Office told NJ.com.
One officer is seen in the video, kicking the man in the head and neck. Other officers at the scene appear to be stomping on parts of his body.
The man who caused the car crashes, 48-year-old Leo Pinkston, has been charged with aggravated assault and fleeing the accident. Police let off multiple shots at Pinkston, who was a mile away before the crash.
In the video, the first officer goes up and kicks the man, knocking him down. The police officers begin to drag the man off the sidewalk, away from the fire and into the middle of the road.
The victim was hospitalized with severe burns.
City officials said Wednesday that they have major concerns regarding how police conducted themselves during the pursuit in the Greenville section of New Jersey that ended with an innocent man fighting for his life.
Raymond Worrall, Director of Communications for the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office spoke to NJ.com to give an official statement on the matter.
"Our investigators have reviewed the video and we believe with certainty that this man is the bystander from West New York who suffered burns, not Leo Pinkston, the individual pursued by police," he said. "As I previously said, we will utilize all resources available to the Prosecutor's Office for a full and thorough investigation as we seek to bring this matter to a rightful conclusion."
In a statement, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said, "Our investigators have reviewed the video and we believe with certainty that this man is the bystander from West New York who suffered burns, not Leo Pinkston, the individual pursued by police."
A statement was also issued to NJ.com by a person close to the victim, though the individual asked to remain anonymous. The friend stated that the 28-year-old was driving home from work when he tried to avoid crashing with Pinkston's fast-moving car.
"[He’s] fighting for his life," said the friend. "[He] has multiple broken bones and second- and third-degree burns."