JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSMiami) — Police in New Jersey are on the hot seat after a video appears to show officers kicking an innocent man who was on fire.
Video from Sunday night shows the man, Miguel Feliz, 28, stumble out of his car and roll on the ground while covered in flames, following a dramatic police chase that ended in a fiery crash.
The witness, Erick Roberto, who recorded the video said, instead of helping the victim, police began kicking and beating him.
“Obviously, the video speaks for itself,” said Alexander Locatelli, Feliz’s attorney, who believes it’s clear that officers thought Feliz was the one they were chasing.
Locatelli said officers confused Feliz for Leo Pinkston, who was later arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Pinkston led police on a miles-long chase and struck Feliz’s car, causing him to crash.
Feliz has been hospitalized with burns on more than 30 percent of his body, said his brother, Ramon Feliz.
“Until he wakes up, and he’s able to… for his own sake, realizes what happens, remembers what happens, then he’ll tell you from his own words,” said Ramon.
In a statement to the Jersey Journal, the local police union president said he thought the officers were trying to put out the fire and pull Feliz out of harm’s way, an explanation that doesn’t fly with Jersey City’s mayor.
“I think any reasonable person that looks at that video would say that those did not look like helpful hands,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
Fulop added that he wants the officers involved to be fired. Feliz’s family agreed.
“He deserves justice,” said Angeanette Munoz. “He’s a father, not an animal. He’s a human being. He deserves justice.”
The case is now in the hands of the Hudson County prosecutor, who is urging people to avoid a “rush to judgment.”