Family and friends of 23-year-old Jaquill “Jake” Fields who was untimely killed in a hit-and-run involving an off duty city police officers in mid-June renewed their calls for equal justice on Tuesday evening.
Sabrina Simmons, aunt to Fields, said authorities are being lenient by not charging police officer Jose Urena with vehicular homicide. “We want to see this officer prosecuted and treated the same way as one of us,” she told the city council.
Urena was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident after he struck Fields and his brother who were walking on Temple Street near North 4th Street on June 16th, 2015 at about 8:25 p.m.
Simmons and more than four-dozen mostly family members and friends of the deceased filled the council chamber in support with signs that had images of Fields with the message, “Justice for Jake.”
“This officer who killed my nephew has a charge that will get him maximum three years,” she said. “This officer should be charged with vehicle homicide.”
Simmons said Urena’s bail was also too low. His bail was $50,000 with 10-percent option.
Simmons alleged Urena was drunk behind the wheels. She said a second police officer who responded to the scene did not render CPR but called for assistance. The family marched from their home on North 6th Street to city hall in late June to seek justice for Fields.
“The first time we were here we felt ignored and somewhat disrespected and our issue was overlooked,” said Simmons. She said city officials were carrying on side conversations while the family was pleading for justice.
Council president William McKoy apologized to Simmons. He said the mayor and police brass will convene a meeting to discuss the matter. “We know the family is hurting,” he said.
McKoy said he trusts in the court system to deliver justice. The aunt said she met with Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes and others. The case is expected to go before a grand jury which may result in further charges being filed against Urena.
“This officer who is supposed to uphold the law, protect and serve, do everything possible to help others,” said Simmons, “he did just the opposite.”