Deadly high-speed chase suspect released

Police have released the passenger who was in the car that was involved in a deadly high-speed chase on the Saw Mill Parkway yesterday.

Westchester County Police say Akeem Smith, 25, of Yonkers, was released from custody when it was determined that he didn't have any outstanding warrants against him.

Smith was in the passenger side of a silver Nissan driven by Miguel Espinal, 36, of Queens, when a NYPD patrol car tried to pull over the car for unspecified violations at 242nd Street and Broadway in the Bronx.

Espinal tried to flee by driving onto the northbound Saw Mill Parkway. Later, Espinal made a U-turn and headed the wrong way along the parkway before crashing into a black Volkswagen driven by a civilian bystander near the Cross County Parkway.

After the crash, Espinal climbed out of the window of the damaged car and fled on foot into the woods. After a chase of about 100 yards, cops caught the suspect and struggled to arrest him. During the struggle "one officer's firearm discharged, striking the 36-year-old male in the torso," according to a statement by the NYPD.

Espinal was pronounced dead at the scene.

There is no word yet if Espinal had a weapon. Police are back on the scene today, combing the woods for evidence.

Smith and the driver of the black Volkswagen were taken to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx with injuries that were not life-threatening. Smith's lawyer says he is on probation for a federal drug charge, but has had no new charges filed against him.

The two NYPD officers involved in the shooting were taken to Montefiore Medical Center for evaluation.

Espinal, who was on parole for burglary, may also have been wanted on other charges in Florida. His family says that still didn't give police the right to kill him. "It's not fair. It's not right what they did today to an innocent person, to a person that was so happy and full of life; [it] was not right," says cousin Melania Brown.

Since police were involved in the shooting, the state Attorney General's Office is overseeing the investigation.

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