An out-of-uniform New York City police officer threw a cooler at a man on a motorcycle from close range, causing a violent crash. The man died, the Associated Press reports. The sergeant, Erik Duran, was suspended without pay hours after the death of Eric Duprey, 30, in the University Heights section of the Bronx. Surveillance video showed Duprey driving the gas-powered motorcycle on a sidewalk toward a group of people, including the sergeant. Duran picked up the picnic cooler and threw it. Duprey was struck hard and lost control, then was tossed toward a tree as the motorcycle veered into the street. Duprey was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said Duprey tried to flee on a friend’s motorcycle after he was caught selling drugs to an undercover police officer. The sergeant was standing on the sidewalk as part of the “buy-and-bust” operation carried out by the Bronx Narcotics Unit. Police declined to specify what drugs Duprey was accused of selling. Duprey’s mother, Gretchen Soto, said the police narrative was “all lies,” insisting her son was not selling drugs or trying to evade officers. She said she was on a video call with him from Puerto Rico on Wednesday when suddenly the screen went dark. “They left three fatherless babies,” Soto said. “I’m going to get justice.” Duran, a 13-year veteran of the department, has been recognized by the department dozens of times for excellent and meritorious police service. His disciplinary record includes a substantiated complaint last year for abusing his authority during a stop.