A man fleeing NYPD officers on a motorbike died after a sergeant threw a plastic cooler at him, causing him to crash, authorities said Wednesday. The officer has been suspended and the New York attorney general has launched an investigation into the incident.
, NYPD sergeant Erik Duran was part of a “plainclothes buy-and-bust operation” that was attempting to apprehend 30-year-old Eric Duprey for selling narcotics in the Bronx. According to surveillance video, as Duprey attempted to flee the scene on a motorbike, an object hit him, causing him to lose control. CBS New York reported that Duprey crashed into a vehicle and hit his head.
According to the New York attorney general’s office, that item that was hurled by the officer was a picnic cooler. Duprey, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The NYPD said in a statement on social media that Duran had been suspended from duty without pay.
The incident will be investigated by the attorney general’s Office of Special Investigation, which assesses every reported incident where a police officer may have caused the death of a person “by an act or omission.”
Those who knew Duprey criticized the NYPD’s reaction.
“He was a nice person. He was the best father in the world. We were going to take my kids to school next week and this is not right,” said Orlyanis Velez, the mother of Duprey’s two children, in an interview with CBS New York. “… There was no reason to kill him. He got no gun. He got nothing on him. Why you gotta kill him?”
Erik DeJesus, a neighbor of Duprey’s, told CBS New York that other community residents witnessed the crash and are in shock.
“One of the ladies that witnessed don’t even want to come out. She hasn’t come out all day. I couldn’t think last night just to know, I spoke to him a couple hours ago, and to know now he’s gone, it’s a little impactful, a little traumatic,” DeJesus said.
According to CBS New York, a makeshift memorial has sprung up in the place where Duprey fell off his bike.
“Despite what police might say, what the rap sheet might say — listen, I know a good person when I see one, and he was a humble dude,” said DeJesus. “He always looked out for the neighborhood.”