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NYPD officer charged with death of scooter rider he struck with cooler

A New York Police Department officer has been charged with manslaughter over the death of a man he threw a drinks cooler at during a sting operation.

Sergeant Erik Duran, 36, threw the cooler at Eric Duprey as he attempted to escape on a motorised scooter. The cooler hit Duprey in the head and knocked him off the scooter.

On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James, announced that Mr Duran had been charged with second-degree manslaughter, first degree assault and criminally negligent homicide.

Mr Duran was arraigned on Tuesday before State Supreme Court Justice George Villegas.

His bail was set at $150,000 and he is due back in court on 18 April 2024. The maximum sentence on the top charge is 25 years in prison.

The incident occurred at around 5pm on 23 August 2023 during a “buy-and-bust” operation conducted by the NYPD Narcotics Borough Bronx (NBBX) Tactical Response Unit.

According to the AG’s office, during the operation, NBBX team members encountered Duprey and attempted to arrest him, at which point he got on a motorised scooter to flee.

As Duprey rode off, Mr Duran grabbed a civilian’s cooler off of a nearby table and threw it at him, striking him in the head and causing him to lose control of the scooter.

Duprey then sideswiped a tree before he was thrown from the scooter and hit his head on the curb, landing under a parked vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The charges against Mr Duran come following an assessment by the AG’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI). If OSI’s assessment indicates an officer may have caused the death, OSI proceeds to conduct a full investigation of the incident.

The charges against the defendant are accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Orlyalis Velez, Duprey’s wife, had previously called for Duran to be imprisoned. He had been suspended and then placed on modified duties following the incident.

"This is abuse, power abuse,” Ms Velez told NBC New York last year following her husband’s death. “There was no reason to kill him. He don’t got no gun. He got nothing on him.”

“I don’t want (Duran) suspended, I want him in jail,” she said at the time. “He’s still home, he still sees his family.”

An attorney for the family, Jonathan Roberts, told the outlet that they were “happy at least that something is being done.”

“The family is encouraged that this is the first step in holding this officer accountable for the senseless and horrible killing of Eric Duprey, a loving partner, a loving father and a loving son,” Mr Roberts said.