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NYPD sergeant charged in cooler toss that caused death of motorcyclist

A New York Police Department (NYPD) sergeant who threw a cooler at a man fleeing on a motorcycle, causing a violent crash and the man’s death, has been indicted by the New York Attorney General.

Erik Duran threw a plastic picnic cooler from close range at Eric Duprey, 30, a delivery driver, in August. Duprey was pronounced dead within minutes of the cooler smashing into his head, The Associated Press reported.

“Today, we’re announcing the indictment of NYPD Sergeant Erik Duran on charges of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Assault in the First and Second Degrees, and Criminally Negligent Homicide in the death of Eric Duprey,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a post online.

“The indictment alleges that on August 23, 2023, in the Bronx, Sgt. Duran forcefully threw a cooler at Eric Duprey as he was driving a motorized scooter, causing Mr. Duprey’s death,” James’s post said. “My prayers are with Eric Duprey’s family.”

The NYPD confirmed that the sergeant, Duran, 37, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged within the confines of the 44th Precinct. Duran pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in the Bronx and made bail, which was set at $150,000. Dozens of police officers came to support his court appearance, the AP reported.

Duran was suspended without pay hours after the incident.

The AP reviewed surveillance video that showed Duprey driving the motorcycle toward a group of people on the sidewalk, including Duran, who was not in uniform. The video showed Duran picking up the cooler and throwing it, striking Duprey’s head.

The video shows Duprey losing control of the motorcycle and being thrown off it toward a tree. The vehicle veered into the street and hit a metal barricade, the newswire reported last year.

Police said he was fleeing on a friend’s motorcycle after he was caught selling drugs to an undercover police officer. Duran was on the sidewalk as part of the Bronx Narcotics Unit’s operation.

“Sergeant Duran made a split-second decision to prevent serious injury or death to those citizens and officers,” his attorney John D’Alessandro said after the arraignment. “This indictment sends a clear message to society and every law enforcement office in this state: In today’s New York, the streets belong to the criminals.”

Duran joined the Bronx Narcotics Unit in September 2022 and has been recognized for his excellent police work. His disciplinary record includes a complaint for abusing his authority during a stop, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board found, according to the AP.

His next court date is scheduled for April 18.

The Associated Press contributed.

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