BLOOMINGDALE, NJ- On Thursday, video footage was released that shows the final minutes of a chase last month, which ended in the town of Bloomingdale with an officer-involved shooting.
The video was released pursuant to a public records request by NJ.com (can be found below).
On Jan. 23, Michael Rivera, 32, of Newark, NJ decided to engage in a high-speed pursuit with officers in New Jersey. The chase ended up with Rivera dead after being shot by a Riverdale, NJ police officer.
The pursuit started when it was determined that a car driven by Rivera was wanted relative to a theft investigation in Riverdale. Police from both towns began pursuing the car, finally ending up on a dead-end street in Bloomingdale.
Rivera turned his car around and was partially blocked by a police cruiser that stopped in front of him. The officer was trying to exit his cruiser when Rivera drove forward and hit the cruiser, pinning his leg.
As the SUV operated by Rivera drove toward him, the police officer, clearly in fear for his life, fired an estimated 14 shots while partially pinned inside the cruiser, striking Rivera.
Officers administered first aid on Rivera and performed CPR, however he died at Chilton Medical Center. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of his leg injury and was subsequently released.
A local elementary school was placed on lockdown following the shooting; however, it was lifted around 1 p.m.. All students remained in their classrooms, however, until their normal dismissal time.
The State Attorney General’s Office Division of Criminal Justice is continuing to investigate the shooting. However, Riverdale Police Chief Kevin Smith said he believes Rivera’s own reckless actions “forced this incident which resulted in his death.”
“I see a suspect willing to kill my officer and put many lives at risk,” Smith said in a statement. “I know my officer did not want to do this, but he had to, and I stand behind him.”
Of course, the attorney representing Rivera’s family called the shooting excessive and said it was an unconstitutional use of force. Because driving a 4,000-pound SUV at the driver’s door of a police cruiser is clearly not excessive.
“Demonstrating a callous disregard for the family in the house directly in front of him, this officer, with his adrenaline pumping, panicked and fired his entire clip into a trapped and cornered shoplifter,” Attorney Josh McMahon said.
We’re sure he was also a “good boy” who had “turned his life around” and was going to “start taking college classes.” You know, the usual claptrap we hear when a police officer is forced to used deadly physical force because they are forced to.
The Attorney General’s office confirmed that the Bloomingdale and Riverdale police were pursuing Rivera at 10:15 a.m. on that date due to being suspected in the theft in Riverdale.
Dashboard camera footage shows the chase lasted for just under three minutes, with the officer at times telling dispatchers that Rivera’s vehicle was traveling around 80 mph and showing him passing other vehicles with reckless disregard for other’s safety.
Rivera turned off the main road and drove past the Samuel R. Donald Elementary School into a small residential area according to the video.
A mailman can be seen directing police in the proper direction where the video shows Rivera trying to run the officer’s vehicle off the road.
The police officer then radios, “He almost hit me!”
Other police cruisers are seen in the video and caught up with Rivera initially, then followed him into a cul-de-sac. The SUV then goes up a wooded bank to escape the dead end.
As the officer pulls up, Rivera drives across a lawn and drives straight toward him just as he opens his door. The dashboard camera than captures the sound of around 14 shots being fired, then the police vehicle rocking as the door is struck.
Surveillance video in the area shows Rivera’s vehicle turn for a moment and drive alongside the cruiser and then come to a stop.
Rivera was ordered out of the vehicle and onto the ground, where police then called for EMS to treat him, the video shows.
While the police department did not release the officer’s name, his name was listed on a form that police officers must fill out and file with the state anytime use of force is used.
The officer, whom we are not identify at this time, is 30 and has been on the police department for six years and he completed the form three days after NJ Advance Media had requested a copy of it.
As is normal in the case of fatal police shootings, or sometimes even non-fatal ones, the police officer has been on paid leave. He is, however expected to return to work next week.
The police chief in Bloomingdale, Joseph Borell declined to comment on the shooting, however he did confirm as false reports that had circulated by some area television stations earlier I the week, that Rivera had shot at police.
“We never ever put out any press release or information on any level. I’m not sure where that information came from,” he said.
Borell, obviously frustrated by the false narrative put forth, said it was “incredibly frustrating,” especially under the circumstances.
“There are a lot of people whose lives were affected by this,” he said.