KPD: The pursuit of justice


Did you ever notice on those real-life TV cop shows how suspects being chased manage to crash their cars or leap from a building or do similar things that would debilitate thee and me, but they apparently escape serious injury? This week’s KPD blotter includes such an incident.

The story begins the night of July 22, when a child’s bicycle (readily recognizable neon green with blue rims and yellow tires) was reported stolen from the front porch of a Laurel Ave. home. Det. Daniel Esteves located security video from the area and reportedly recognized and developed as a suspect Joseph Ferguson, 25, of Kearny.

Police said Ferguson was also known to be wanted on a no-bail Hudson County Sheriff’s burglary warrant and a $750 MV warrant from Rockaway, N.J.

At 6:30 p.m., July 26, Esteves, Sgt. Chris Levchak and Officer Chris Medina went to the suspect’s residence on the 600 block of Devon St., where they reportedly found him barricaded in an upstairs bathroom. Police said that when he ignored repeated demands to open the door, they forced it open — and watched as he jumped out the second-floor window.

Police said he “literally hit the ground running” — chased by Medina, who had positioned himself in the backyard.

The suspect, police said, fled south on Devon, scaled at least two fences, ran through yards between Devon and Chestnut Sts. and emerged on Columbia Ave., where he collided with and knocked a 4-year-old child to the pavement.

At that point, a bystander, a man whom Chief John Dowie described as “an outstanding concerned Kearny citizen,” intervened and blocked the fugitive’s flight until the pursuing cops caught and cuffed him.

In addition to the warrants, Ferguson was charged with burglary, theft and resisting arrest and was sent to the Hudson County Jail. where bars prevent people from jumping out windows.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following, three of which also involved pursuits:

July 24

Det. Neil Nelson, at Kearny Ave. and Afton St. at 1:30 p.m., reportedly recognized Steven Martinez, 31, of East Newark, and confirmed he had warrants — Hudson County Sheriff/NCIC, no bail; Newark, contempt, $10,000 (10%); Lyndhurst, contempt, $626 (full), and  Clifton, town ordinance, $250.
Police said that as Nelson approached him on foot, Martinez turned and ran south on the avenue, cut through the Mandee’s lot and scaled the fence onto Maple St. The pursuing detective radioed the runner’s description and direction of flight, and KPD units established a perimeter and began a foot search.

According to police, when Dets. Ray Lopez and Michael Farinola and Sgt. Brian Wisely found him hiding behind a garage on Windsor St., a “defiant” Martinez declared, “F— this!” and reached for his waistband. The officers pounced, forced him to the ground and cuffed him. And fortunately, his waistband held, not a weapon, but a cell phone.

In addition to the warrants, he was charged with resisting arrest.

July 25

At 8 p.m., Det. Sgt. Michael Gonzalez and Esteves spotted a white Yamaha motorcycle, operated by a middle-aged white male, speeding — and pulling a wheelie — on the 300 block of Maple St. They followed in their unmarked car, but activated the lights at Maple and Halstead Sts. Instead of stopping, the biker led them on a chase.

In the interest of conserving space (you might want to check a map), we shall list just the route, not the direction of travel (all compass points):  Halstead to Belgrove Drive, to Liberty St., to Kearny Ave., Halstead again, back to Belgrove, Midland Ave., N. Midland, Passaic Ave., Laurel Ave., Hillcrest Road (where Officer Tim Castle’s marked patrol car became the lead chase vehicle), Magnolia Ave., Kearny Ave., Stewart Ave., Passaic Ave., across the Pike bridge to Cortlandt St. in Belleville and then Rt. 21, where the biker was last seen speeding south toward Newark.

The KPD terminated the pursuit and notified the N.J. State Police Real-Time Crime Center in Newark to activate all automatic license-plate readers in the area to try to get the cycle’s tag. The investigation is ongoing.

July 27

Officer Jonathan Dowie, on patrol at 4 a.m., checked out a ’97 Ford wagon parked in a secluded part of the Walmart lot and found the passenger seat occupied by Christopher Kennedy, 31, of Rutherford (formerly of Kearny). Police said Dowie confirmed that Kennedy had a no-bail NCIC larceny warrant from Teaneck and, with back-up from Levchak and Medina, arrested him.

Teaneck police were notified and were to pick him up at KPD headquarters.

* * *

At 10 p.m., Officers Medina and Sean Podolski responded to a report of a man walking in the roadway and interfering with traffic at Passaic Ave. and Afton St.

Police said the 19-year-old from Newark identified himself as Darnell Kelly, but his real surname turned out to be Sanders. He was issued a complaint summons for hindering apprehension and was transported to Newark.

July 28

Officers Dowie and David Bush, on patrol on Rts. 1/9 in South Kearny at 1:30 a.m., noticed a southbound 2015 Dodge van whose driver appeared reluctant to pull abreast of the police car. They got behind the van, queried the plate number and were advised that the vehicle was stolen.

Police said the officers tried to pull it over, but it continued heading to Newark, then made a U-turn and started speeding toward Jersey City, making unsafe lane changes and almost hitting other vehicles. The cops pursued it into that city, where it screeched to a halt in the area of Ocean and Orient Aves., its two male occupants then jumping out and fleeing on foot. Police said Dowie and Bush nabbed the driver — a 16-year-old from Jersey City — but the passenger escaped into the backyards.

The JCPD and Kearny Sgt. Jack Corbett also had responded to the scene, and the driver was taken to KPD headquarters, charged with possession of stolen property and possession of marijuana. Hudson County Juvenile Intake was contacted, and the teen was ordered remanded to the Juvenile Detention Center in Union County.

— Karen Zautyk

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent