A Newark Police Sergeant jumped into the frigid Passaic River and rescued a drowning stolen car suspect last night according to Newark Public Safety Driector Anthony Ambrose.
According to Director Ambrose, Amir Sinclair Copeland, 24, of Newark, last night was taken into custody after police pulled him out of the river.
Authorities said shortly before 10 p.m., officers spotted a tan 2002 Chrysler Town and Country mini-van, whose occupants were reportedly seen tampering with vehicles earlier in the evening.
The van, which was reported stolen, fled after officers attempted to pull it over.
Director Ambrose said at the intersection of McCarter Highway and Center Street, both suspects ran from the vehicle.
One suspect ran towards Broad Street and was able to escape.
Copeland, the driver, jumped into the Passaic River Director Ambrose said.
After the officers observed Copeland’s head sink under the water and that he was beginning to drown, Sergeant Juan Gonzalez jumped into the river, swam out to him and pulled him to safety.
Sergeant Gonzalez and Copeland were both transported to University Hospital.
Sergeant Gonzalez was released after being treated for hypothermia. Copeland was admitted due to water in his lungs.
Police recovered a replica handgun along with several license plates from inside the mini-van.
Copeland is charged with Receiving Stolen Property, Eluding, Resisting Arrest and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.
Director Ambrose commended the sergeant for his courageous and selfless act. “Rather than waiting for a boat or raft to arrive, Sergeant Gonzalez risked his own life to ensure that Copeland would survive,” he said. “Jumping into the icy Passaic River, swimming out to save the suspect and pulling him to safety is nothing short of heroic.”
Copeland has an extensive history of arrests for Receiving Stolen Property, with eight between 2013 and 2015.
He was also arrested twice in 2016 for receiving stolen auto. Prior to his arrest yesterday, Copeland had already been arrested twice this year for Receiving Stolen Property.
On February 3rd, Copeland was arrested in Union and charged with Receiving Stolen Property of a 2002 Dodge.