AG’s Office investigating Bayonne traffic stop where driver died after setting himself on fire

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The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is investigating a Bayonne traffic stop where the driver died from burn-related injuries after setting himself on fire.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

On July 13th, shortly before 11 p.m., officers of the Bayonne Police Department attempted a motor vehicle stop of the decedent’s vehicle after observing several motor vehicle violations in the area of 54th Street and Broadway, the AG’s Office said in a statement.

Officers activated the lights and sirens on their unmarked patrol vehicle in an attempt to make a traffic stop.

The driver, who has not been identified, failed to stop and continued westbound on 50th Street, ultimately driving down 52nd Street, a dead-end street, where several police vehicles blocked the motor vehicle operator’s path of travel.

The motor vehicle operator stopped the vehicle, but failed to comply with repeated commands by officers to exit the vehicle. He then appeared to ignite a flame and the interior of the vehicle became engulfed in flames and filled with smoke.

Officers attempted to extinguish the flames and called for assistance from the Bayonne Fire Department, which extinguished the fire.

The driver sustained serious burn-related injuries and was transported to the St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston for treatment. He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 12:04 p.m. on July 25th.

This investigation is being conducted pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, which implements the statutory requirement that the Attorney General’s Office conduct the investigation of any death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody, and which establishes clear standards and procedures for conducting such investigations.

The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.

This is the second incident in Bayonne the AG’s Office is investigating since last month.

The other is a June 7th fatal shooting where police killed Lee Waskiewicz, 47, inside his home after he refused to put down a knife. He appeared to be emotionally disturbed, based on the 911 call and police body camera footage from the scene.