No criminal charges for police in death of 21-year-old Trenton scooter driver

A state grand jury decided not to pursue any criminal charges in connection with the death of Francis Delacruz Abad, a 21-year-old Trenton resident who crashed on May 25 in Hamilton Township after fleeing from an officer that tried to stop him for not wearing a helmet while operating a scooter.

Abad sustained severe injuries in a crash while attempting to evade Hamilton Township Police Detective Brian Davis on May 25, 2021. He died in a hospital two days later.

Abad collided with a Dodge Caravan that was attempting to turn left into a shopping center on Route 33 eastbound, according to the attorney general’s office.

The investigation into Abad’s death was conducted by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and subsequently presented to New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury.

This approach aligns with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019, ensuring an impartial and transparent process. OPIA introduced standard operating procedures (SOPs) in July 2021 to guarantee the neutrality and objectivity of grand jury presentations, adhering to the aforementioned directive.

The investigation comprised witness interviews, examination of photographs, scrutiny of body-worn camera footage, and an autopsy conducted by the medical examiner.

This substantial evidence, including video footage depicting the aftermath of the incident, was presented to the state grand jury.

After considering the testimony and reviewing the evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on Monday, May 8, 2023, and issued a “no bill” decision, indicating that no criminal charges should be filed against Davis.

According to the investigation, the crash occurred shortly after 9 p.m. on May 25, 2021, near the intersection of Route 33 and Whitehorse-Mercerville Road.

Davis, driving an unmarked police vehicle, initiated a motor vehicle stop, but Abad chose not to comply, proceeding westbound on Route 33 instead.

Abad collided with a Dodge Caravan whose driver was attempting to turn left into the Mercerville Shopping Center from Route 33 eastbound. The impact threw Abad off his scooter, causing him to strike the van’s windshield.

He was immediately transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he passed away at approximately 3 p.m. on May 27.

Pursuant to P.L. 2019, c. 1, a law enacted in 2019, the Attorney General’s Office is mandated to investigate deaths occurring during encounters with law enforcement officers acting within their official capacity or while the deceased is in custody.

The law stipulates that all such investigations must be presented to a grand jury, which determines if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the involved officer(s). During these proceedings, the grand jury receives instructions on the potential criminal offenses, including criminal homicide charges, as well as self-defense and other forms of legal justification, as mandated by statutes.

To ensure utmost fairness and impartiality, a conflicts check was performed in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive, revealing no actual or potential conflicts of interest involving any individuals assigned to the investigation. Before presentation to the grand jury, OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher conducted a comprehensive review of the investigation, following the policies and procedures outlined in the SOPs.

Upon the conclusion of investigations governed by the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any individuals should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review, in line with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA actively oversees the ensuing review and takes necessary action to ensure its timely completion, as well as the implementation of appropriate measures based on the review’s findings.

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