Cops keeping Attorney General’s Office busy

The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating police over fatal encounters with people in three municipalities: Bayonne, East Brunswick and Newton.

The probes include looks at the death of a motor vehicle operator who was fatally injured after setting himself on fire on July 13, 2021, when Bayonne police officers attempted to make a motor vehicle stop; a pedestrian who was struck and killed while walking on Route 18 by a East Brunswick Police Department vehicle on August 1, 2021; and a man who was shot dead by three uniformed officers of the Newton Police Department on July 4, 2021.

The Bayonne driver’s identity is not being released but according to authorities, on July 13, 2021, shortly before 11 p.m., officers of the Bayonne Police Department attempted a motor vehicle stop of the decedent’s vehicle after observing several motor vehicle violations in the area of 54th Street and Broadway in Bayonne.

Officers activated the lights and sirens on their unmarked patrol vehicle in an attempt to make a traffic stop. The motor vehicle operator failed to stop and continued westbound on 50th Street, ultimately driving down 52nd Street, a dead-end street, where several police vehicles blocked the motor vehicle operator’s path of travel.

The motor vehicle operator stopped the vehicle but failed to comply with repeated commands by officers to exit the vehicle. He then appeared to ignite a flame. The interior of the vehicle became engulfed in flames and filled with smoke.

Officers attempted to extinguish the flames and called for assistance from the Bayonne Fire Department, which extinguished the fire. The motor vehicle operator sustained serious burn-related injuries and was transported to St. Barnabas Hospital for treatment. He was pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Medical Center at 12:04 pm on July 25.

An East Brunswick Police Department vehicle struck and fatally injured an adult male on August 1, 2021, in East Brunswick. The identity of the decedent is not being released at this time.

According to the preliminary investigation, the officer was on-duty, in uniform, and was operating a marked patrol vehicle northbound on State Route 18 in East Brunswick at approximately 3:35 a.m., when he struck a man who was in the roadway in front of 260 State Route 18.

The man was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick less than an hour later.

The Attorney General’s Office released a 911 call and video footage from body worn cameras and mobile video recorders (MVRs) related to a fatal police-involved shooting that occurred on July 4, 2021, in Newton, N.J.

The decedent has been identified as Gulia Dale, III, 61, who lived at the address where the shooting occurred. The Newton Police Department officers who fired their service weapons at Dale are Steven Kneidl and Garrett Armstrong.

The shooting is under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and the recordings were released in response to an OPRA request and pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters.

On Friday, July 30, 2021, investigators met with the decedent’s family and attorney to review the video recordings before making them public.

According to the preliminary investigation, three uniformed officers of the Newton Police Department arrived at a residence on Clive Place in Newton, N.J., at approximately 9:30 p.m. in response to a 911 call from a family member who was concerned about Dale’s behavior and the fact that he had a gun.

When police arrived, Dale was attempting to leave his residence in a vehicle and the officers’ body-worn cameras were activated and recording the events that transpired.

The officers gave Dale verbal commands to get out the vehicle and he got out, then opened the rear driver’s side door, briefly leaned inside, and then closed the door.

Dale subsequently got back in the driver’s seat, and officers continued to give verbal commands for him to exit the vehicle.

After he got out once again with an object in his hand, both officers discharged their firearms, striking the vehicle and fatally wounding Dale.

Investigators recovered a .45-caliber Glock 21 firearm near Dale.

Police and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Dale at the scene but he was later pronounced dead.

The recordings being released by the state include the 911 call audio, video recordings from the body worn cameras on Kneidl and Armstrong as well as from mobile video recorders in three police vehicles.

The recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.

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