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Man dies after NPYD officer throws cooler, knocks him off motorbike

Apr 18, 2024

A 30-year-old man died Wednesday in the Bronx minutes after an undercover New York police sergeant threw a cooler at him, knocking the man off a motorbike.

The New York Police Department in a statement Thursday said the man, Eric Duprey, was "attempting to flee from the police" when Sgt. Erik Duran threw the picnic cooler at him.

Duran, 35, has been suspended without pay, according to police officials.

An investigation into the incident and Duran's use of force is being led by the New York State Attorney General's Office in conjunction with the NYPD's force investigation division.

"The NYPD is committed to ensuring that there will be a full, thorough, and transparent investigation of this incident to determine the facts and to take the appropriate steps forward," the statement said.

Duprey, the father of three children, was riding a motorbike through the University Heights neighborhood in the West Bronx on Wednesday evening when he encountered Duran.

According to The Associated Press, surveillance shows Duprey driving on a sidewalk toward a group of people, including Duran, who was not in uniform.

As Duprey drew closer, the sergeant can be seen on video picking up the cooler and hurling it at Duprey. Duprey then lost control of the bike and crashed violently.

Minutes later, he was dead.

Police say Duprey was trying to evade police custody on a friend's motor bike after he was caught selling drugs in an undercover drug sting.

Duprey’s mother, Gretchen Soto, told the AP the police narrative was “all lies."

“He wasn’t fleeing. He wasn’t fleeing. He was just on the motorcycle talking to me on the video chat. And he passed by that place when all of a sudden the call cut out," she said.

Soto told the AP her son lived in the Bronx, worked as a delivery driver and had three children, ages 3, 5 and 9.

“They left three fatherless babies,” Soto said. “I’m going to get justice.”

Duran has worked for the NYPD for 13 years. In September, he joined the Bronx Narcotics Unit, which was the group carrying out the operation Wednesday evening.

He has been recognized by the department dozens of times for what it deemed excellent and meritorious police service, according to a police personnel database.

Duran’s disciplinary record includes a substantiated complaint last year for abusing his authority during a stop, according to the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The Associated Press contributed to this story