A Union County grand jury has returned indictments against a Rahway man accused of leading police on a vehicle pursuit that ended in a fatal crash this past summer in Elizabeth, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.
Surpris Ophilien Jr., 30, was indicted Wednesday on charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree death by auto, second-degree eluding police, second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident, and two second-degree weapons offenses.
It was approximately 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, 2015 when Elizabeth Police Department patrol units were called to the Allstar Nightclub on 3rd Street in Elizabeth on a report of an altercation, according to Union County Homicide Task Force Supervisor Michael Henn, who is prosecuting the case. On their way to the scene, two Elizabeth police officers in a patrol vehicle spotted a green GMC pickup truck being driven by Ophilien travel through a red light at a high rate of speed, Henn said.
Ophilien subsequently led the officers on a brief vehicle pursuit, but once the pickup truck started traveling the wrong way down a one-way street, the pursuit was terminated. Moments later, a collision took place a short distance away, on an overpass for a ramp leading to North Avenue East in Elizabeth.
Ophilien, who was found to be in possession of a fully loaded .45-caliber handgun, climbed out of the wrecked pickup and ran a short distance, leaping from the overpass to the roadway below before being arrested. The critically injured driver of the vehicle Ophilien had struck on the overpass, 25-year-old Edward Coleman of East Orange, was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead several hours later.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.