Man Dies After N.Y.P.D. Sergeant Uses Cooler to Knock Him From Motorbike

A man in the Bronx died after a police sergeant threw a cooler at him, knocking him off his motorbike on Wednesday, prompting an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

The sergeant, Erik Duran, was suspended without pay on Thursday, police officials said in a statement posted to social media. The man on the motorbike, Eric Duprey, who was fleeing narcotics officers attempting to arrest him, was pronounced dead at the scene, the attorney general’s office said.

The city’s medical examiner will determine the cause of death, and the state attorney general will lead the investigation into the incident, the police said. The police are preparing for a possible public backlash, according to an internal memo obtained by The Times.

On Wednesday, at 5:28 p.m., undercover narcotics officers near 192nd and Aqueduct Streets conducted a buy-and-bust — an operation to catch unsuspecting drug dealers in the area, police officials said.

During the operation, Mr. Duprey sold narcotics to one of the officers. After the sale, undercover and plainclothes officers nearby moved in to arrest him, the police said.

A man, who the police did not identify, then wheeled a motorbike over to Mr. Duprey. Mr. Duprey got on the bike and sped off down Aqueduct Avenue, driving one way then another, the police said.

Moments later, near the corner of 190th Street, a surveillance video reviewed by The New York Times shows him driving up onto the sidewalk and heading in the direction of a group of about 10 people sitting at a table, an account confirmed by the police.

It was then that Sergeant Duran grabbed a white plastic cooler from the table and threw it at Mr. Duprey, the 18-second video clip shows. The cooler struck Mr. Duprey, and the motorbike skidded. He lost control and hit a tree, then a Jeep Cherokee, before the motorbike tipped over and fell to the ground.

Surrounding officers rushed over to Mr. Duprey and called for an ambulance. Emergency service workers arrived at 5:31 p.m., according to the police and New York Fire Department officials.

Four minutes later, Mr. Duprey was pronounced dead.

Sergeant Duran, 35, a 13-year veteran of the department, has been suspended for 30 days, police officials said. He had been assigned to Narcotics Borough Bronx for nearly a year.

The swift suspension provoked pushback within the department. One high-ranking officer said Sergeant Duran “had attempted to make a lawful arrest” and that using a cooler to stop Mr. Duprey “can be equated to closing the door and stopping from leaving.”

On Thursday, Mr. Duprey’s wife, Orlyanis Velez, sat next to a growing memorial near where her husband had died.

A cluster of about 200 red, green blue and white candles had been placed close to bouquets of red and white carnations. Behind them was a poster board displaying photographs of Mr. Duprey and Ms. Velez with their children, Eryanis, 5, and Erian, 3.

Ms. Velez said she still has not told them about their father’s death.

“Officers are supposed to be protecting people, not killing people for no reason,” she said. “I want justice for my husband.”

The Police Department said its force investigation division would help with the attorney general’s investigation.

“The N.Y.P.D. is committed to ensuring that there will be a full, thorough, transparent investigation of this incident to determine the facts and to take the appropriate steps forward,” the statement from the police said.

Joshua Needelman contributed reporting.

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