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Suspended Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo takes stand in trial for 2019 fatal shooting



NEWARK, N.J. — Suspended Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo took the stand Thursday for the first time at his trial. He is accused of shooting two men, including one fatally, after a police chase in 2019.

Crespo was pursing a vehicle when he killed Gregory Griffin, the driver of the car. Andrew Dixon, the passenger, was shot in the face and badly injured. Crespo has since been suspended by the Newark Police Department and faces charges of aggravated manslaughter and assault.

CBS2 was in the courtroom on Thursday as defense attorney Patrick Toscano focused his questioning on Crespo’s response and how he diffused a dangerous situation by using force when necessary.

Toscano asked Crespo, “Did you recklessly shoot at these two people?”

Crespo answered, “No.”

Toscano asked, “What did you do?” and Crespo answered, “Stopped a threat.”


The prosecution on Thursday focused on how Crespo could have known it was necessary.

READ MOREOpening statements in Newark Police Officer Jovanny Crespo’s trial over shooting Gregory Griffin, Andrew Dixon

Back in 2019, a gun was recovered in the vehicle, and Crespo claimed it was pointed at him by the passenger, which is why he said he opened fire. During cross examination, the prosecution focused largely on Crespo’s police report after the incident, which the officer wrote, himself. The only description Crespo included about the threat posed by the vehicle was that it was moving at a high rate of speed.

Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Alex Albu asked Crespo, “You only shoot at the driver of a moving vehicle if there is an imminent danger or no other means to avert the danger. correct?”

Crespo answered, “Yes.”

Crespo shot into the vehicle at three different locations after initially stopping it for speeding. It was late at night and the windows of the car he shot at were tinted, but Crespo said he could still see a gun inside, due to the combination of street and police lights.

Crespo’s answers have changed regarding why he shot at both men in the vehicle and whether that was his intention. Prosecutors continued to push the defendant as to why new information would just now be coming to light. He had told a grand jury that he was squarely focused on the passenger with the gun.


Albu asked, “Are you saying that that’s no longer the true version? And that you were shooting at the driver as well?”

Crespo answered, “I wouldn’t be able to read it exactly, but I was pretty confused that day and bombarded with a lot of questions.”

The proseuction also pointed back to an exam Crespo had taken at the New Jersey Police Academy, where he had gotten an aswer wrong about use of force in a scenario similar to what ended up occurring in 2019. Meanwhile, the defense ended questioning with a simple one: “Did you believe force was necessary that night?”

Crespo answered, “Yes.”

Source: CBS

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