N.J. officer charged with manslaughter in shooting death of fleeing motorist

Newark police Officer Jovanny Crespo could face life in prison if he's convicted of killing Gregory Griffin, who was shot and killed in late January.

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By Alex Johnson

A Newark, New Jersey, police officer accused of shooting and killing a fleeing motorist in January was charged with manslaughter Tuesday.

Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, was charged in a grand jury indictment with six counts, including aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault, in the death of Gregory Griffin, 46, who died Jan. 29, a day after he and a passenger were shot in their car as it tried to speed away from pursuing officers.

Newark, New Jersey, police Officer Jovanny Crespo in an undated service photo.Essex County, New Jersey, Prosecutor's Office

Crespo, a member of the Newark Police Department for less than two years, was being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark. Little other information was made available, including whether bond had been set or whether Crespo has an attorney.

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The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said later that a detention hearing hadn't been scheduled but that it could come as early as Wednesday.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stevens said an officer who stopped Griffin's car late Jan. 28 radioed that the vehicle was speeding away and that she had seen a gun inside it. Crespo joined the pursuit and opened fire at three locations, he said.

Gregory Griffin, one of the two men shot by Newark, New Jersey, police Officer Jovanny Crespo.

A passenger, Andrew Dixon, 35, was gravely injured and remains "not in good shape" almost four months later, Stevens said.

No other officers fired their weapons, he said.

In addition to aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault, Crespo was charged with two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and two counts of official misconduct. If he's convicted, he could face life in prison, Stevens said.

The prosecutor's office said the case is the first fatal police shooting to result in an indictment in Essex County "in recent memory."