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New video emerges of initial confrontation that led to fatal traffic-stop shooting by rookie Newark cop

Posted at 5:02 PM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 22:20:30-04

NEWARK, N.J. — New video released Thursday shows the tense, initial traffic stop that ultimately led a rookie Newark police officer to fatally shoot a man.

Officer Jovanny Crespo, 26, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and two counts of official misconduct for the Jan. 28 shooting, officials said.

But Crespo was not the officer who initially stopped a car driven by the man who was gunned down, Gregory Griffin, 46.

The new video released Thursday shows another cop,  Officer Valeria Sanchez, stopping Griffin earlier that night near Clinton Avenue and Thomas Street. That confrontation quickly grew heated.

"Turn off the vehicle," she said in the video. "Turn off the vehicle. Turn it off."

Griffin didn't comply. She told him six more times to turn off the car. He asked why and she didn't explain.

After Griffin rolled up the car window, Sanchez pounded on it.

"Open the window, open the door," she said, then radioed for another unit to respond to the scene.

Video shows Griffin rolling down the window.

"Let me see your hands," Sanchez said. "Let me see your hands, hands!"

Passenger Andrew Dixon, 35, raised both hands, but Griffin raised just one. He kept his hand near the gear shift lowered.

"Hands on the wheel," Sanchez said. "Let me see your hands. Just let me see your hands."

He lifted his hidden hand, then drove off.

Sanchez cursed repeatedly and ran back for her patrol car.

"Be advised, the vehicle took off," she said over the radio to other cops, pointing out that Griffin had a gun.

Sanchez and cops in several cruisers pursued Griffin's car through the streets of Newark.

The fatal shooting took place about a mile away, at 54 Irvine Turner Boulevard. Video from that scene, released earlier this week, shows Officer Crespo jumping from his patrol car and firing repeatedly at Griffin's car. The video shows Crespo getting back into his car and following Griffin's car, which kept moving despite having been fired at.

"Relax, relax, bro," the officer driving in Crespo's car can be heard saying. "Relax."

Crespo then opened the door again of the now speeding patrol car.

"Get in! Relax bro," the other officer said.

Crespo closed the door, but then opened it back up.

"Let me go, let me go," he said, then fired twice at Griffin's car before getting back into the patrol vehicle. "I think I shot him. I seen the gun. He pointed the gun at me. He pointed the gun right at me."

Crespo was the only officer to fire a weapon during the car chase. He shot both Griffin and Dixon in the head. Dixon suffered serious injuries. Griffin died from his injuries at University Hospital the next day.