An Elizabeth resident who collided with multiple vehicles at the scene of an investigation into an unrelated Saturday afternoon car accident is in custody and authorities have opened a probe to review a police officer’s discharge of a firearm.
Nelson Valentin, 30, is charged with second-degree causing widespread damage and injury, second-degree aggravated assault, and third-degree aggravated assault on a police officer.
At about 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, Elizabeth police, fire, and emergency medical personnel responded to the scene of a motor vehicle accident in the area of North Avenue between Newark and Pennsylvania avenues, according to the preliminary investigation, which remains ongoing.
Around the same time across town, the driver of an SUV was robbed of a quantity of cash and carjacked at gunpoint, in the area of 1st Street and Inslee Place in Elizabeth.
The carjacking suspect made his way through the city, until he ended up on North Avenue approaching Ronald Reagan Academy and a large Newark Avenue supermarket located not far from the North Elizabeth train station.
Valentin, who authorities allege was operating the carjacked vehicle, came upon the North End accident scene and attempted to maneuver around it, driving on a sidewalk for a short distance and then reversing course, driving backwards and striking a marked patrol vehicle being driven by an Elizabeth Police Department officer.
Valentin allegedly accelerated forward suddenly, nearly striking other first responders at the scene, prompting an Elizabeth police officer to fire his service weapon several times.
Police say gunshots struck the SUV but Valentin still tried to drive away, hitting one other vehicle before the vehicle he was operating became disabled.
Valentin was subdued and placed under arrest a short time later.
The officer whose vehicle was struck by Valentin was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries and later released. No person was struck by gunfire, according to the preliminary investigation.
The Prosecutor’s Office’s Shooting Response Team is continuing to investigate the incident with assistance from the Union County Police Department.
Anyone with information is being urged to contact Sgt. Andrew Dellaquila at 908-274-5771.
The investigation is being conducted in strict accordance with New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Directive 2006-5 and the July 28, 2015 supplemental directive, which govern all investigations into use of deadly force by law enforcement, said Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park.
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