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Officials: Suffolk cops in chase obeyed rules

A vehicle crashed into a parked minivan at

A vehicle crashed into a parked minivan at high speed and overturned Saturday morning at Straight Path and 11th Street in West Babylon. (Dec. 4, 2010) Photo Credit: Paul Mazza

Suffolk police officers involved in a vehicle chase that left two men dead in West Babylon contacted dispatchers before the pursuit as policy required, authorities said Sunday.

After Rocco Coscia did not stop when Suffolk police tried to pull him over in Wyandanch on Saturday for a traffic violation, the First Precinct officer informed dispatch that he would chase the suspect, and a supervisor monitored the situation by radio, said Det. Sgt. Kevin Cain.

"That's exactly what happened," Cain said.

Coscia led police on a two-mile, roughly two-minute chase from the intersection of Irving and Jackson streets in Wyandanch to the scene of the crash in West Babylon at Straight Path between 11th and 12th streets, authorities said.

Coscia lost control of his 2003 Toyota Camry and it struck a shed, a tree and a parked car before catching fire. Coscia, 36, of Massapequa, and his passenger, Michael Griffin, 42, of Wyandanch, both died.

Coscia and Griffin had extensive criminal records that included convictions on drug charges, court records show.

Suffolk police would not divulge further details of the crash or the names of the officers involved. Suffolk police policy usually limits the number of vehicles allowed to be involved in a chase to two and requires officers to check in regularly with progress and speed.

The policy allows officers four reasons to begin a pursuit: the driver avoids arrest; presents a "clear and immediate" threat to motorists; has or is trying to commit a violent felony; or commits a lesser offense but the need for immediate arrest outweighs the risks of a pursuit.

Saturday's pursuit began around 8:28 a.m. when Coscia drove through a stop sign, Cain said. During the chase, an object police believe to be narcotics flew out the window of Coscia's car, and it is being tested by a lab, police said. Results were not available yesterday.

Coscia, who state records showed once owned a fireplace and chimney restoration company, was released from prison in September 2009 after serving a three-year sentence for his third conviction for driving under the influence. He had also been convicted twice of resisting arrest in the past decade.

Griffin's first conviction was for stealing a car when he was 18 in 1986. He was most recently released from prison in 2008 after serving a 1-year term for attempted sale of a controlled substance.

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