A police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man after following him in a dramatic high-speed car chase in the Bronx last year will not be criminally charged, according to a report from the state attorney general's office.
Officer Garthlette James shot Miguel Espinal, 35, on December 8th, 2015, post-chase. According to the report, James and fellow officer Romeo Francis spotted Espinal's car in the Bronx, and tried to get him to pull over because of his heavily-tinted windows. The report says Espinal instead sped onto the Henry Hudson Parkway, hit two other cars, and then proceeded onto the Saw Mill Parkway, where he drove erratically against traffic and slammed into three more cars.
Espinal then ran into the woods in Yonkers, according to the report. James and Romeo followed him, a scuffle allegedly ensued as they tried to arrest him, and Espinal was shot—James told investigators Espinal was reaching for his gun when he shot him. The report says gunshot residue and the location of the entry wound suggests James was less than 18 inches away from Espinal when he shot him, apparently corroborating James's account.
“Evidence uncovered during the investigation showed that the use of force by Officer James was justified under New York Penal Law,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said in a statement. "The forensic evidence and totality of the circumstances corroborate Officer James’ account, and do not provide any basis for the Office of the Attorney General to disprove - as it must under the law - that Officer James reasonably believed that he was in danger of the imminent use of deadly force."
Normal Siegel, an attorney who represented Espinal's family, told the Times his clients were "distraught," and would meet with a pathologist this week to see if they could challenge the report.