TO: ALL NEWS MEDIA
FROM: PROSECUTOR GURBIR S. GREWAL
DATE: DECEMBER 29, 2016
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office ("BCPO" or the "Office") has concluded its investigation of the non-fatal police shooting of Jose Santos-Alvarez on October 15, 2015 by a Hackensack Police Department ("HPD") Officer ("Officer 1") and has determined that Officer 1’s use of deadly force against Mr. Santos-Alvarez was legally justified. Because there are no material facts in dispute regarding the non-fatal shooting of Mr. Santos-Alvarez, the BCPO determined that it was not necessary to present this matter to the Grand Jury. The entire investigation was conducted in accordance with the July 28, 2015 Attorney General Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police use of force investigations ("Attorney General’s Directive"). In addition, the Attorney General’s Office reviewed and concurred with the BCPO’s investigative findings and determination that there were no material facts in dispute. As such, the Attorney General’s Office agreed that it was not necessary to present this matter to a Grand Jury.
Overview of Investigative Measures Undertaken
The BCPO Major Crimes Unit investigated the non-fatal shooting of Mr. Santos-Alvarez. The investigation included, among other things: witness interviews; a review, measurement, and three-dimensional rendering of the scene; the collection and review of forensic evidence collected at the scene; review of ballistics reports; review of all pertinent medical records; review of all HPD reports related to the October 15, 2015 incident. The witness interviews included an interview of Officer 1 and other HPD Officers who responded to the shooting, as well as civilian witnesses who were in the area at or around the time of the shooting.
Summary of Evidence
On October 7, 2015, Mr. Santos-Alvarez allegedly strangled his ex-girlfriend Monika Potoczniak and allegedly suffocated their four-year-old son, "C.P." to death in Jersey City, New Jersey. On October 10, 2015, Superior Court Judge Martha Royster issued Complaint-Warrant 2015-5965-906, which charged Mr. Santos-Alvarez with two counts of murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and 3a(2). Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office ("HCPO") detectives subsequently located Mr. Santos-Alvarez in the vicinity of 168-170 Clay Street in Hackensack, New Jersey. HCPO detectives sought the assistance of the HPD.
On October 15, 2015, Officer 1 along with other HPD officers were informed of the open warrants for Mr. Santos-Alvarez and were assigned to assist detectives from the HCPO with locating and arresting Mr. Santos-Alvarez in the vicinity of 168-170 Clay Street. Later that day, detectives, including Officer 1, located Mr. Santos-Alvarez in a locked room near the kitchen in a residence at 170 Clay Street. Officer 1 was one of four HPD officers who entered the room after the locked door was forced open.
At the time the four HPD officers encountered Mr. Santos-Alvarez, he was crouched in a corner of the room and armed with a knife that had a nine-inch blade. Mr. Santos-Alvarez had the knife pointed at his neck. All of the officers ordered Mr. Santos-Alvarez to drop the knife numerous times, but he refused to comply.
According to Officer 1, s/he immediately recognized Mr. Santos-Alvarez as the individual s/he had previously observed in the neighborhood and as the individual for whom they were searching. Officer 1 also observed that Mr. Santos-Alvarez had a large butcher’s knife with a blade that s/he observed to be between eight to ten inches long. Mr. Santos-Alvarez then held the blade of the knife by his neck and was jabbing himself with the knife. Officer 1 stated that s/he was about six feet away from Mr. Santos-Alvarez at this point in time. As the last officer into the room, s/he was the one closest to the bedroom door that Mr. Santos-Alvarez hid behind.
According to Officer 1, s/he yelled the words, "drop it, put it down, drop the knife" between 15-20 times. Officer 1 heard the other officers issue the same commands to Mr. Santos-Alvarez. Some of the officers gave the commands in Spanish. Officer 1 stated that Mr. Santos-Alvarez completely ignored all of the officers’ commands and eventually pointed the knife at Officer 1 and lunged towards him/her. When Mr. Santos-Alvarez was within one to two feet from Officer 1, Officer 1 fired one round at Mr. Santos-Alvarez striking him in the right lower abdominal area. Mr. Santos-Alvarez then dropped the knife and fell to the ground on his stomach.
At one point, Mr. Santos-Alvarez pointed the knife at Officer 1 and lunged towards him/her. Officer 1 then fired one round at Mr. Santos-Alvarez striking him in the right lower abdominal area. Mr. Santos-Alvarez then dropped the knife and fell to the ground.
Relevant Witness Interviews
Officer 1, along with the other three Officers (hereinafter, "Officers 2 through 4"), who were present during the non-fatal shooting of Mr. Santos-Alvarez were separately interviewed by
detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, and provided the following relevant information, in sum and substance:
On October 15, 2015, Officer 1 worked the 4:00 p.m. to midnight shift. At some point during his/her shift, s/he attended a briefing with other HPD officers and HCPO. During this briefing, Officer 1 learned that there was an open, active warrant for Jose Ronald Santos-Alvarez, which charged him with two counts of murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and 3a(2). Officer 1 also learned that the HCPO detectives had tracked him to the vicinity of 168-170 Clay Street in Hackensack. Officer 1 also viewed a photograph of Mr. Santos-Alvarez and recognized him as someone s/he had seen in the neighborhood of 170 Clay Street during the summer of 2015. Officer 1 further explained that s/he regularly patrolled that area before s/he was promoted to the rank of Detective.
During the briefing, the detectives discussed their tactical plan to locate and apprehend Mr. Santos-Alvarez. At the end of the briefing, Officer 1 and other officers proceeded to the location of 168-170 Clay Street and Officer 1 took a position on the perimeter of the residence located at 170 Clay Street at the northeast corner of the property, along with two other HPD officers. At the time, Officer 1 was in plain clothes and wearing a tactical vest with the word "Police" clearly visible on the front and back. From his/her vantage point on the northeast corner of the property, Officer 1 saw a team of officers enter 168 Clay Street, which is directly next to 170 Clay Street in this duplex structure. Officer 1 then saw officers within the perimeter give the "thumbs up" hand signal which signified that the premises at 168 Clay Street was clear. Officer 1 maintained his/her position on the northeast corner of the property while a team of officers made entry into 170 Clay Street.
Officer 1 stated that s/he heard "some talking" at the front of the residence located at 170 Clay Street, but could not discern what words were being spoken. Officer 1 stated that s/he then observed a hand signal from a fellow officer which signified that the premises at 170 Clay Street was clear except for two locked bedrooms. At that point, Officer 1 left his/her position at the northeast corner of the property and went to the front of the residence at 170 Clay Street. As s/he entered the front door, Officer 1 observed HCPO detectives gain entry into a locked bedroom that was immediately to the left. The detectives entered the room and confirmed that Mr. Santos-Alvarez was not there.
Officer 1 then looked down the long, narrow hallway of the first floor and observed HPD Officer 2 and Officer 3 speaking with a Hispanic female. Officer 1 noticed that the hallway and kitchen were well-lit. Officer 1 walked down the hallway towards his/her fellow officers. The officers were speaking to the Hispanic female in Spanish.
At that point, Officer 1 heard a shuffling sound emanating from within the bedroom closest to the kitchen. The door to this bedroom was closed and locked. Officer 1 focused on this noise because s/he was informed that the Hispanic female was telling Officer 2 and Officer 3 that the
bedroom was empty. Officer 4 was standing right next to Officer 1 and heard that same noise of movement emanating from within the locked bedroom door. Officer 4 then contacted the HPD Sergeant on scene and informed him/her about what s/he heard from within the bedroom. The Sergeant then authorized the officers to gain entry into the room by forcing the door open.
Officer 4 kicked the door in and entered the bedroom. S/He was followed by Officer 2, Officer 3 then Officer 1. The four officers proceeded into the room in a tactical formation. Officer 4 went to the left and towards the corner of the bedroom, followed by the other three officers. All four officers had their weapons drawn. Officer 1 recalled that the room was dark, but illuminated by his/her duty-issued flashlight.
After hearing the Sergeant tell him/her to secure the knife, according to Officer 1, s/he kicked it into the kitchen. Officer 1 then stepped out of the bedroom and the other officers handcuffed Mr. Santos-Alvarez. Officer 1 was then directed to an ambulance that was parked outside the residence. S/He was transported to Hackensack University Medical Center along with some other officers from the Hackensack Police Department. S/He was treated and released the same day. Officer 1 later responded to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in Paramus, where s/he turned over his/her clothing, tactical vest, badge and duty weapon.
On October 15, 2015, Officer 2 was assigned to the Narcotics Unit and working in plain clothes. S/He attended a briefing, at which time, s/he was directed to assist the HCPO with locating a suspect charged with murder. During the briefing, Officer 2 was provided with information, including the suspect’s name and photo.
Officer 2 first went to the rear of 170 Clay Street for security and eventually moved to the front while the residence was being cleared. S/He saw two women in the kitchen of 170 Clay Street being spoken to by officers and went in to listen. S/He and the other officers then realized that a room near the kitchen was not cleared. S/He was advised at that time by other officers that they heard a noise coming from that room. The officers got approval from their supervisor to force entry into the bedroom.
Officer 4 went in first, Officer 2 was right behind him, followed by two other officers, one being Officer 1. Officer 2 recalled that the bedroom was "lit" but did not identify by which light source. S/He did not realize s/he was next to the suspect until Officer 4 shouted, "He’s next to you." S/He observed a male crouching in the corner with a knife to his throat. Despite several commands by all to drop the knife, over a period of time that seemed to be very long to Officer 2, the suspect did not comply. Eventually, the suspect redirected the knife from his throat, pointed it at the officers, used his hand to push himself up and begin movement toward the officers. At that time, one gunshot was fired. Officer 2 observed that after the suspect was struck, he fell back into a fetal type position and ultimately dropped the knife. He was secured and taken to the ambulance.
On October 15, 2015, Officer 3 was assigned to patrol and was working the 5:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. shift. S/He was in uniform and in a marked police vehicle. During his/her shift, s/he was briefed about the HCPO’s search for Mr. Santos-Alvarez. Officer 3 then responded to the area of 170 Clay Street and stood by as perimeter security. S/He subsequently entered 168 Clay Street to assist with interviewing the Spanish speaking resident. S/He showed her a photograph of Mr. Santos-Alvarez and asked if she had seen him. The resident denied ever seeing Mr. Santos-Alvarez. While in 168 Clay Street, the resident was utilizing a set of keys in an attempt to open locked doors within that residence. They then went into 170 Clay Street because she believed there were additional keys in there. Once inside, they came into contact with another female. At the time, Officer 3 was unaware of the connection, if any, between the occupants of 168 Clay Street and 170 Clay Street.
While speaking with the women in the kitchen, Officer 3 heard a noise coming from inside the locked bedroom door adjacent to the kitchen. Officer 3 recalled that the kitchen was well lit. Once forced entry was made into the locked bedroom, s/he observed Mr. Santos-Alvarez crouching in the corner with a knife. Officer 3 recalled that the bedroom was dark. Officer 3 stated that Mr. Santos-Alvarez lunged at Officer 1, who fired one time, striking the suspect. After Mr. Santos-Alvarez dropped the knife, Officer 3 used his/her handcuffs to secure the suspect and remove him from the residence.
On October 15, 2015, Officer 4 was assigned to the Quality of Life Unit, working in plain clothes. While on duty, s/he was called in for a briefing and provided with the murder suspect’s information, name, and photo. S/He was initially directed to the area of Railroad Avenue and Clay Street and then redirected to 170 Clay based on results of the cell phone pings. Officer 4 was carrying a shotgun with weapon- mounted light for this detail. S/He eventually wound up clearing rooms in 170 Clay Street.
While in the rear kitchen, s/he heard a movement from behind the locked door of the bedroom off of the kitchen. Officer 4 recalled that the kitchen light was on. After receiving authorization from the Sergeant, Officer 4 kicked in the door and made entry, followed by Officer 2 and others (s/he didn't know who at the time). Officer 4 recalled that the bedroom light was off but that the flashlight mounted on his/her shotgun was on. Officer 4 observed Mr. Santos-Alvarez crouching in the corner, in a catcher like position, holding a knife to his throat. After several commands by all of them, Mr. Santos-Alvarez refused to drop the knife. Eventually, he took the knife from his throat, pointed it at the officers and used his other hand to push off toward them. At that time, there was one gunshot; Mr. Santos-Alvarez was struck, fell back into a fetal like position and dropped the knife. He was then secured and removed to the ambulance.
On October 15, 2015, the Supervising Sergeant ("Sergeant") was the supervisor of the HPD Narcotics Division and assigned to work the 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. shift. S/He stated that the detectives assigned to the Narcotics Division worked in plain clothes. While driving to work s/he received a telephone call from another Sergeant, requesting that s/he and the detectives under his/her command respond to the Detective Division upon arrival. They were subsequently briefed by members of the HCPO regarding a suspect that was involved in a double homicide. During the briefing, the Sergeant learned that the suspect had been located in the area of 168–170 Clay Street.
After the briefing, all personnel responded in and around the area of Clay Street to set up surveillance. S/He was driving a vehicle that looked like a taxi, and parked on Railroad Avenue in a position where s/he could see both houses. While conducting surveillance s/he observed a female arrive at the house. Thereafter, all detectives were assigned to execute a search on 168-170 Clay Street.
At first, s/he went to the rear of the residences and secured the perimeter. After the perimeter was secured s/he went to the front of the house and entered 170 Clay Street. S/He stated that most of the rooms on the first floor were searched with negative results. There was one room (at the end of the hallway by the kitchen) that was locked and was not searched. He heard an officer ask the female owner of the residence to open the door. She stated that no one was in there. The Sergeant then gave the order authorizing the officers to kick the locked door in.
Upon entering the room, officers began yelling "He’s here! Drop the knife!" The Sergeant then entered the doorway of the room and observed the suspect crouching in the corner stabbing himself in the neck. S/He then recalled that the officers gave more orders to the suspect, commanding him to drop the knife. The Sergeant then observed the suspect lunge forward. S/He then heard a gunshot. The Sergeant saw the suspect hunch over and drop the knife. S/He further stated that the suspect was handcuffed and dragged out to the ambulance. S/He then ordered Officer 1 and other officers to be taken to Hackensack University Medical Center.
Jose Santos Alvarez
Jose Santos Alvarez was interviewed by BCPO detectives, one of whom speaks fluent Spanish, on October 16, 2015 at the Hackensack University Medical Center. Mr. Santos-Alvarez was advised of his Miranda rights in Spanish, acknowledged them, and waived them, agreeing to be questioned without an attorney present. The following is a summary of his statement, which was in Spanish:
Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that as of October 15, 2015, he was staying in the room of a former co-worker, Civilian 1. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he went there during the early morning hours of October 12, 2015. He told Civilian 1 that he was evicted because he could not pay rent and he needed a place to stay for about one week. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he never told Civilian 1 what happened in Jersey City. Civilian 1 agreed to let Mr. Santos-Alvarez remain in his room. Mr.
Santos-Alvarez stated that while at Civilian 1’s apartment, he never ventured outside or interacted with any of the other tenants.
Mr. Santos-Alvarez told the detectives that on October 15, 2015, he decided to end his life. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that prior to the police entry into Civilian 1’s room, he stabbed himself in the stomach with a knife. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he took the knife from the Jersey City apartment before fleeing the scene on October 7, 2015. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he placed the knife in a black backpack before he left that apartment.
Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that the police entered Civilian 1’s room by breaking the door down. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that four police officers entered the room, and that he knew that they were police officers because they had guns and badges. Mr. Santos-Alvarez acknowledged that at the time the police entered, he was crouched in the corner with the knife in his right hand. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he pointed the knife at his neck because he wanted to slit his throat. Mr. Santos-Alvarez admitted that he heard the police officers commanding him in English "to put the knife on the floor." Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that the officers issued these commands in a loud, strong voice. He estimated that they continually shouted their commands for about a minute and a half to two minutes. Mr. Santos-Alvarez admitted that he repeatedly shook his head "no" while the officers were ordering him to drop the knife.
Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that while he was crouched in the corner, he held the knife in his right hand. Mr. Santos-Alvarez claimed that he wanted to cut his own neck. Mr. Santos-Alvarez explained that he wanted to slit his throat with a slicing motion, but the knife was not sharp enough. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he then decided to jab the knife directly into his neck. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he proceeded to re-position or re-direct the knife so he could plunge it into his neck; it was then that he was shot. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that after he was shot, he threw the knife to the ground.
Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that after he was shot, the officers then put him on the floor, handcuffed him and then removed him out of the room. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that there were medics waiting outside of 170 Clay Street. Mr. Santos-Alvarez stated that he was treated in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Subsequent Criminal Charges
In connection with the events outlined above that transpired on October 15, 2015 in Hackensack, Mr. Santos-Alvarez was charged by the BCPO with one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2); one count of possession of a weapon (knife) for an unlawful purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and one count of possession of a weapon (knife) under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d. Those charges were referred to the HCPO for prosecution.
On June 7, 2016, a Hudson County Grand Jury indicted Mr. Santos-Alvarez on the following
charges in connection with the deaths of Ms. Potoczniak and her infant son: two counts of Murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) and 3a(2); one count of resisting arrest, third degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a(3)(a); one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(2); one count of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and one count of possession of a weapon under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.
Medical Treatment of Jose Santos-Alvarez
Mr. Santos-Alvarez was initially treated in the Trauma Center of Hackensack University Medical Center. At that time, the treating physicians noted the following injuries: three superficial stab wounds to the neck and three stab wounds to the abdominal area. The doctors also located a bullet entrance wound in the right lower quadrant of Mr. Santos-Alvarez’s abdominal area but no corresponding exit wound.
The doctors performed an exploratory laparotomy. During the laparotomy, the surgeon noted that two of the three abdominal stab wounds punctured the peritoneum (transparent membrane which lines the abdominal cavity and covers the abdominal organs), but there was no evidence of visceral injury. The surgeon also noted that the bullet was lodged in the lumbar musculature. A CAT scan of the abdominal and pelvic region confirmed that the bullet was lodged in the lumbar musculature and also showed an iliac fracture on the right. Mr. Santos-Alvarez was evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon who decided against removing the bullet. Mr. Santos-Alvarez was cleared for discharge on October 29, 2015.
Crime Scene Investigation
BCPO detectives conducted a search of the crime scene pursuant to a Search Warrant granted by the Honorable Rachelle Harz, J.S.C., at 11:41 p.m. on October 15, 2015. Among other things, BCPO detectives documented the scene utilizing the Leica C10 #-D Laser Scanner and a member of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, took overall digital photographs depicting the scene and search. The residence can be described as follows: a white, three story duplex situated on the north side of Clay Street, Hackensack, New Jersey. There are four red brick steps leading from the walkway to a covered porch that covers both doors. Each door is identified by black numbers, 168 and 170 respectively, and each door has a mailbox affixed to the façade. There are two first floor windows on either side of the porch; four second floor windows; and two windows located in the dormer.
The residence at 170 Clay Street, where Mr. Santos- Alvarez was found and where the shooting occurred, can be more particularly described as follows: upon entering the front, exterior door, a doorway leading to a bedroom is situated on the immediate left; a long, narrow corridor straight ahead; and a staircase is situated to the far right. At the end of the aforementioned corridor is a kitchen and adjacent to that, a small bedroom. This bedroom, hereinafter referred to as Civilian 1’s bedroom, was where the officers encountered Mr. Santos-Alvarez. This bedroom is approximately 8 feet long by 8 feet wide. The space in the room was cramped and contained a bed along one wall, some stacked shelving on the opposite wall, and several articles of clothing on the floor.
During the search of the crime scene, the following items (with their respective evidence item numbers) were collected:
Item #001: One Samsung cellular phone and battery collected from the front walkway;
Item #002: One black jacket and a blue sneaker collected from the front porch;
Item #003: El Salvador Passport in the name Jose Ronald Alvarez Santos, miscellaneous paperwork and loose change from the jacket pocket;
Item #004: One straight edge knife with a black handle (containing suspected blood) collected from the kitchen floor, under the table. The blade of this knife is approximately nine inches long;
Item #005: One Winchester 12 gauge shotgun cartridge collected from the rear bedroom floor. As previously indicated, Officer 4, who entered Civilian 1’s bedroom first, was armed with a duty-issued shotgun with a weapon-mounted light;
Item #006: One swabbing of suspected blood collected from the kitchen floor;
Item #007: One swabbing of suspected blood collected from the front porch floor;
Item #008: One S&W 40 Cal. shell casing collected from the floor in the rear bedroom. Ballistics testing conducted by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department Firearms Unit established that this shell casing had a visible Glock type firing pin impression. A test-fired shell casing from Officer 1’s duty weapon was microscopically compared to the spent shell casing recovered from Civilian 1’s room and determined to be a positive match. In other words, the spent shell casing recovered from Civilian 1’s room was fired from Officer 1’s duty weapon. As previously stated, the single projectile fired from Officer 1’s duty weapon was not recovered because Mr. Santos-Alvarez’s treating physicians elected to not remove it;
Item #009: One brown wallet containing $163.00 in cash and a debit card in the name of Jose Ronald Alvarez, collected from the pocket of a jacket located in the rear bedroom; and
Item #010: One composition notebook collected from the shelf of a wall unit located in the rear bedroom.
Applying the relevant statutes and the Attorney General’s Directive to the undisputed facts
outlined above, we conclude that the use of deadly force by Officer 1 was justified pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4a, which states "the use of force upon or towards another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion." The law defines a "reasonable belief" as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence situated as Officer 1 was at the time of the officer-involved shooting.
Specifically, on October 15, 2015, Officer 1 entered Civilian 1’s room at 170 Clay Street in an effort to apprehend a suspect charged with two counts of murder. At the time of this incident, Mr. Santos-Alvarez had been a fugitive for over one week. Once inside the room, Officer 1 observed the suspect, Mr. Santos-Alvarez, crouched in the corner of the room armed with a knife. Mr. Santos-Alvarez had the knife pointed at his neck. Officer 1, who was the last officer into the room, was the closest to Mr. Santos-Alvarez. Officer 1 was approximately six feet away from Mr. Santos-Alvarez.
All four officers in the room ordered Mr. Santos-Alvarez to drop the knife several times and he refused. Although Mr. Santos-Alvarez later claimed that he only wanted to kill himself, it is undisputed that he never said anything out loud to the officers. In fact, Mr. Santos-Alvarez admitted that he repeatedly shook his head "no" when the officers ordered him to drop the knife. It is also undisputed that at one point, Mr. Santos-Alvarez then moved the knife away from his neck and re-positioned it. All four of the officers who were in the room stated that Mr. Santos-Alvarez pointed the knife at them/Officer 1. Mr. Santos-Alvarez later claimed that he only intended to plunge the knife into his own neck; however, in light of all the attendant circumstances, Officer 1 reasonably believed that Mr. Santos-Alvarez was actually pointing the knife at him/her and was about to attack him/her. Officer 1 had no choice but to fire his/her weapon in self-defense.
In addition, Officer 1’s actions are also justified pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:3-7b(2)(c) and (d)(i), which states that the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is justified when the officer "reasonably believes that the crime for which the arrest is made is . . . homicide . . . and the actor reasonably believes there is an imminent threat of deadly force to himself or a third party."
Compliance with the Attorney General’s Directive
Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal has reviewed this matter. In this regard, the BCPO’s investigation was conducted in compliance with all relevant provisions of the Attorney General’s Directive. In addition, a comprehensive conflicts inquiry was conducted to ensure that no actual or potential conflicts of interest existed for Prosecutor Grewal, former Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, or any of the supervisors or detectives assigned to the investigation.
Subsequent Review by the Attorney General’s Office
Pursuant to the Attorney General’s Directive, the results of this investigation and the legal conclusions reached were reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office. On December 12, 2016, Elie Honig, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice, advised Prosecutor Grewal that the
Attorney General’s Office agreed with the BCPO’s conclusion that the use of deadly force was legally justified and that there are no material facts in dispute that required presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.