MOUNTAINSIDE, N.J. – Officials have released shocking footage from a body-worn camera this week showing a New Jersey man being shot by police after rushing the officer.
What started as a routine traffic stop quickly escalated into a battle to stay alive. It just goes to show there’s nothing ‘routine’ about being a cop.
A Union Township police officer attempted to stop 32-year-old Lester Krek on June 7 because he had an expired registration.
Krek originally stops in a parking lot, but after officers approach his vehicle, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Krek can be heard telling the officers that he is in fear for his safety. He only opens his windows a crack.
The officers surround the vehicle, repeatedly asking the suspect to stop reaching around inside of his truck. After a few minutes, Krek reportedly panics, throws the car into gear and begins to flee.
One of the officers draws his service weapon as he commands Krek to stop, but the suspect doesn’t listen and proceeds to try and run.
Officers quickly hop in their vehicles and begin pursuit as Krek dives onto the busy roadway.
The officers give chase for a few minutes as Krek raced through town, but come upon his trashed vehicle on the side of the road, evidently having been involved in a crash.
The officers confirm that no witnesses saw the man take off, but he is nowhere in sight. They spread out and begin to search for him. At that time, the officers had no idea what kind of situation they were walking into, or whether Krek was armed.
The officers run into a nearby neighborhood, going in and out of suburban yards searching for Krek. The officers speak with multiple residents in the area, describing the suspect and telling them to keep an eye out. After a long time of searching, all of a sudden the officer notices Krek in the bushes.
The officer draws his service weapon and commands the suspect to show his hands and surrender. But instead, Krek begins running straight at the officer. The officer retreats in an attempt to shake Krek away from him, but Krek stumbles with the officer and the officer goes to the ground.
The camera shows Krek hovering above the lawman as the two struggle. The officer later stated that Krek was attempting to take his gun away from him. Then the officer fires his weapon, striking Krek in the torso.
Krek begins to cry in pain as officers surround him and tell him to give up. Krek can be seen continuing to struggle as multiple officers work to take him to the ground. Shockingly, he remains on his feet for a few minutes before finally giving in. In all, it takes more than five officers to subdue the suspect.
Watch the video below. Warning: contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.
The officer reportedly injured his elbow in the fall.
Both Krek and the officer were transported to University Hospital in Newark and were treated for their injuries.
Krek was charged with second-degree disarming a police officer, second-degree eluding police and third-degree resisting arrest.
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The shooting remains under investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.