Investigators release video of stolen car police chase that ended in fatal crash
Video showing a police pursuit of a stolen car that resulted in the death of a bystander driver was released on Friday, as the slain man’s family said they were considering a lawsuit.
The video, which includes traffic camera footage, home security footage and police car dashcams, was posted online by the New Jersey Attorney’s Office investigating the chase.
The car involved was stolen from New Brunswick on October 23, officials said. Samuel Villar, 19, of Somerset, and an unidentified 17-year-old traveled to Marlboro by vehicle and allegedly attempted to break into cars, according to a joint statement from Middlesex County Attorneys and the Old Bridge Police Department. Local residents saw what the couple was allegedly up to and called the police.
A Marlboro police officer identified Friday as Sgt. Greg Arrone responded and began a pursuit of the car that ended after the car struck several other vehicles on Route 9 south at Old Bridge in the Spring Valley Road area just after 2 a.m had, the police said.
The occupant of one of the cars, 33-year-old Freehold resident Arturo Tlapa-Luna, was killed in the crash, the bureau said.
His wife, father and two daughters were also in the car and suffered serious injuries but survived, officials said.
Villar was arrested and charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault on four counts, dodging, employing a juvenile and theft. He was being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center awaiting a court hearing, investigators said.
The 17-year-old man who was accompanying Villar was taken into custody and charged with felony crimes, which if committed by an adult would be burglary, jaunting and conspiracy to commit burglary, the bureau said.
The incident is still under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office as the accident happened during a police pursuit.
State law requires the bureau to investigate deaths in encounters with police. The officer’s actions will be reviewed and the findings will be presented to a grand jury to determine whether the evidence supports the retrial of charges against the officer involved.
Richard Lomurro, the attorney hired by the Tlapa family, said this week he filed tort lawsuits Dec. 5 in Marlboro, the state, Monmouth County, Old Bridge Township and Middlesex County.
A tort lawsuit alerts the companies that he and the family are seeking civil action against them.
“We are pursuing all possible claims to compensate the family for their loss,” Lomurro told NJ Advance Media.
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Chris Sheldon can be reached at [email protected]