Jersey City cops caught on video appear to kick, drag a bystander in crash who caught on fire

The police had chased another man for six miles before the crash.

— -- A bystander, who had caught on fire when he was accidentally involved in a car crash during police pursuit of another vehicle, appeared to be kicked and dragged by officers after he escaped his burning vehicle in a cell phone video recorded by an observer.

The video, obtained by ABC station WABC in New York, shows Jersey City officers approaching the man who had been actively on fire after the crash, then kicking and dragging him in the process.

The incident happened just after 11 p.m. local time Sunday when Jersey City officers tried to stop the driver of a car near Ocean Avenue and Cator Avenue, Hudson County Prosecutor's Office reported.

The fleeing driver, who the prosecutor's office said was identified as 48-year-old Leo Pinkston, was involved in two different car crashes during the pursuit. In the first crash, officers fired shots at him as he tried to drive between two lanes. In the second crash, the driver ran into a utility pole, which sparked a fire that injured a driver in another vehicle, as well.

The driver of the other car has been identified as 28-year-old Miguel Feliz, WABC reported, and is seen on video exiting his care, getting down on the sidewalk and taking off his shirt as he was visibly on fire.

In the video, two officers are seen walking up to Feliz, who no longer appears to be on fire, kicking him and knocking him to the ground. A larger group of officers had congregated around him and he was then dragged away from the fire scene, off the sidewalk and into the road.

Erik Roberto, the witness who recorded the video, told WABC-TV, "I don't got nothing against the cops, but that wasn't the proper way to treat anybody in that kind of situation."

According to the prosecutor's office, Feliz was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, where he remains in critical condition for severe burns to his body.

"My brother right now is in very bad shape," Ramon Feliz, the victim's brother, told WABC-TV. "Thirty percent of his body is burned."

Ramon said his brother is a young father from West New York who was heading home from work when the incident happened.

The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office confirmed in a statement to ABC News that Feliz was in fact an innocent bystander and was not involved in the police pursuit.

"I’d like to thank the individual who came forward with this video and I’d like the public to know that we welcome their help," Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said. "This video is now part of all the evidence we are considering as we investigate the actions of all individuals who were involved with the events of Sunday night in Jersey City."

The Jersey City Police Department confirmed that they are working with the prosecutor's office to continue investigating the case and identify the officers involved. They are asking anyone with additional information to come forward.

"Once we clearly identify all the officers involved, we will be seeking termination in addition to any possible criminal penalties in appropriate cases," said city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.

A police union representative said the video shows the officers coming to the man's aid and dousing the flames.

"As it should be, this entire incident is being fully investigated," Carmine Disbrow, president of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association said in a statement. "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 Steven Fulop also spoke out about the incident on social media and called the actions of the officers "unacceptable."

According to the prosecutor's office, Pinkston has been charged with aggravated assault and eluding police. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 15.

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