New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Westchester district attorney have opened investigations into the deadly shooting of an unarmed suspect following a police chase that started in the Bronx Tuesday and ended with a crash in Yonkers, the officials’ offices said.
An executive order issued by Gov. Cuomo in July gave Schneiderman the authority to investigate cases involving deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement officers.
The suspect, 36-year-old Miguel Espinal, of Queens, was shot and killed by police after running into the woods following a wrong-way crash on the Saw Mill River Parkway.
His 25-year-old passenger was hospitalized in stable condition; police didn’t identify him or say if he faced charges.
Authorities said the chase began in the Bronx, at around 242nd Street and Broadway, when NYPD officers saw a Nissan sports car driving erratically. When the marked patrol car attempted to stop the car, the driver fled onto the Henry Hudson Parkway.
“We saw just a lot of police cars, just going real fast down by Broadway,” said witness Angel Camilo.
The Nissan continued north onto the Saw Mill Parkway, heading into Yonkers. There, the driver made a U-turn and started driving southbound in the northbound lane, causing collisions on the Saw Mill near Cross County Parkway. The suspects got out of the car and one was apprehended, while Espinal fled into the woods in Tibbets Brook Park, police said.
Police caught up Espinal in the woods and there was some sort of confrontation, and an officer’s firearm discharged, killing the suspect, police said.
Police did not reveal details about the nature of the struggle in the woods or what led the officer to fire his gun.
Police initially said gunfire erupted when the suspects got out of their car on the Saw Mill; they later said the suspects were unarmed and there was no gunfire aimed at police.
Two police officers were treated at St. Barnabas Hospital for trauma, per NYPD protocol. Another person was injured in an accident resulting from the chase, but not seriously.
Drivers were stuck in the snarled traffic for more than an hour. Some were shaken by the sight of police helicopters scouring the area.
“I don’t like being around guns and bullets so the thought of a gun near my child is very disheartening,” said one woman.