Case File: Newark Officer Jovanny Crespo

“I could have been dead,” Officer Jovanny Crespo said in an interview after he was indicted by an Essex County grand jury in May. “I believe my actions kept me alive. I think about my four kids I have and I thank God I got to go home that night.”

On January 28th, 2019, Officer Crespo, only 26 years old, responded to a call another officer radioed in that an armed suspect fled a traffic stop. He and his partner pursued the vehicle and engaged in a cat and mouse game with the suspects, who repeatedly slowed down and sped away during the pursuit.

Suspect Gregory Griffin, who has a history of past drug charges, fled a routine traffic stop after another officer spotted a handgun in the vehicle. Not only did Griffin and his passenger flee the scene, they also pointed a gun at Officer Crespo and tried to run him over. Officer Jovanny Crespo’s reaction was necessary and called for due to the danger that these two suspects presented to him, the other officers, and the public. The two men did not comply with the officers and repeatedly attempted to attack and harm the law enforcement officials on the scene. It was confirmed later that the suspect did have a loaded semi-automatic weapon in the front seat of the car.

Although many have been quick to call Officer Crespo a criminal, a murderer, and a killer, most people- including the prosecutor- will never have to make a life or death decision like he did. About the prosecution, Officer Crespo says, “He wasn’t in my shoes. He didn’t see that gun pointed directly at his face. He didn’t see that car driving erratic, putting other lives in danger. I saw a vehicle at 11 o’clock at night driving 70 mph on the other side of the road, putting lives at risk.”

Officer Crespo was suspended without pay and later indicted on aggravated manslaughter and other charges. Newark Fraternal Order of Police President, James Stewart Jr., announced that the FOP stands with Officer Crespo and support his actions. The National Center for Police Defense also stands with Officer Jovanny Crespo. We are committed to supporting him and providing the necessary funds and resources to ensure a fair trial.

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