NATIONAL NEWS

Ex-NJ officer sentenced to 27 years in shooting death of driver, wounding of passenger in 2019 chase

Jun 2, 2024, 10:20 AM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former New Jersey police officer has been sentenced to a total of 27 years in prison in the shooting death of one man and the wounding of another during a high-speed car chase 5 1/2 years ago in the city of Newark.

Superior Court Judge Michael Ravin, citing a need to deter officers from what he called a “shoot-first, ask-questions-later” mentality, sentenced former Newark officer Jovanny Crespo on Friday to 20 years for aggravated manslaughter and seven years for aggravated assault in the January 2019 chase, NJ.com reported.

Those sentences will run consecutively; the judge imposed six-year official misconduct terms that will run concurrently to the other sentences. NJ.com reported that 31-year-old Crespo sunk back into his chair and members of his family wept as the judge told him he would not be eligible for parole for 22 years and 11 months.

Earlier, Crespo wept as his mother and sister begged for leniency. He later stood to briefly apologize to the victims’ families.

Dashboard and police body camera video from the chase showed Crespo jumping out of his patrol car and firing three times during the pursuit. Essex County prosecutors said state guidelines allow deadly force only if the officer or someone else is in “imminent danger” of death or serious bodily harm.

Defense attorney Isaac Wright Jr. had sought leniency, telling the judge that Crespo had less than two years on the job and had been poorly trained, and superiors should have called off the January 2019 chase. Prosecutors said he had trained at the police academy for more than six months and was schooled on the proper use of deadly force.

Ravin agreed, calling the defendant “extensively trained” and saying the five-minute chase through Newark that ended in the death of 46-year-old driver Gregory Griffin and left his passenger critically wounded was “an abhorrent abuse of police power.”

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Ex-NJ officer sentenced to 27 years in shooting death of driver, wounding of passenger in 2019 chase