NEW YORK — A sergeant with the New York Police Department has been charged with multiple crimes after hurling a cooler at a suspect fleeing the scene of a narcotics transaction while recklessly riding a motorcycle on a sidewalk. The suspect subsequently crashed and died as a result of the collision.
Sgt. Erik Duran was suspended shortly after the August 2023 incident and later placed on modified duty. Now he’s been charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault. The indictment was announced by state Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which investigates all deaths at the hands of police officers.
Duran, 37, pleaded not guilty at his Tuesday arraignment in the Bronx and made bail, which was set at $150,000. Dozens of police officers came to court to support their colleague during the hearing, according to the Associated Press.
On Aug. 23, 2023, Duran had been standing on the sidewalk as part of the “buy-and-bust” operation carried out by the Bronx Narcotics Unit. He was dressed in civilian attire when Eric Duprey, 30, tried to make his getaway on a motorcycle after he was caught selling narcotics (crack cocaine) to an undercover detective.
As Duprey raced down the sidewalk on the motorcycle, he recklessly approached a group of people, including Duran. The sergeant then hurled a red picnic cooler at the fleeing suspect, which caused him to crash. He was pronounced dead minutes later.
Duran is a 13-year NYPD veteran. He joined the Bronx Narcotics Unit in 2022. According to a police personnel database, he has been recognized by the agency dozens of times for what it deems excellent and meritorious police service.
The Sergeants’ Benevolent Association union blasted James for bringing the charges against Duran, the New York Post reported.
“The demonization of Sgt. Duran and the criminalization of his actions once again proves the old adage that overzealous prosecutors with a political agenda can indict a ham sandwich if inclined to do so,” SBA President Vincent Vallelong said in a statement.
“Sgt. Duran made a split-second decision that was predicated solely on his concern for the safety of others. Now he has become the latest victim of a legal system that treats honest hard-working cops as criminals and criminals as victims,” Vallelong added.
Vallelong asserted that Duprey dangerously rode the motorcycle 40 mph down the sidewalk. As a result, pedestrians, including children were endangered.
According to the SBA, Duprey would have “caused serious injuries or death to numerous people” had Duran not taken action.
Law enforcement sources said Duprey had at least two previous arrests, including an open felony assault case in the Bronx from June 2022 after reportedly throwing a two-liter bottle of soda through a person’s driver-side window, reported the New York Post.
Duran is next scheduled to appear in court April 18.