Police absolved for shooting at suspect

An investigation determined police involved in a May 18, 2016 shooting were absolved of any wrongdoing, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey, who released a report on the incident but did not identify the Piscataway police officer who fired at a fleeing suspect.

During the pursuit, an officer was hit by a 2002 Honda Accord, shortly after the officer fired a single shot that missed Jeffrey Troxell, 49, the driver who was subsequently charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and two counts of eluding police.

The incident began at 11:18 a.m. when the suspect ran a red light in New Brunswick and fled when a Rutgers University Police Department officer attempted to stop the vehicle, a 2002 Honda Accord, according to the prosecutor.

The officer broke off the pursuit as the driver fled but the pursuit picked up again as Troxell fled from Rutgers University police in New Brunswick and then sought to evade Piscataway police, who chased him through Resurrection Cemetery before make an arrest when another officer subdued the suspect with a Taser.

 

The report appears below in its entirety:

In the Matter of the Investigation of the use of deadly force upon Jeffrey Troxell

Pursuant to Section 8 of the Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Amending Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive  No. 2006-5 (July 28, 2015), the following will serve as the Public Statement on the Results of Investigations not resulting in Prosecution.

On May 18, 2016, a Rutgers University police officer attempted to initiate a motor vehicle stop in the City of New Brunswick for traffic violations. When the officer activated his emergency lighting and audible siren, the operator of the motor vehicle failed to yield and continued to drive erratically. At times, the operator subsequently identified as Jeffrey Troxell, began to drive in the direction of oncoming traffic. The pursuit was subsequently terminated due to the increased risk of danger to the public if it were to continue. Rutgers police communications then advised the Piscataway Police Department that the vehicle was being operated in the direction of Piscataway Township and provided a description of the vehicle which was then transmitted by Piscataway police communications to marked patrol units.

Piscataway police officers subsequently observed a vehicle, consistent with the description provided by the Rutgers Police Department, traveling northbound on Route 18 at a high rate of speed at which time an officer activated his emergency lights and audible siren in an attempt to conduct a motor vehicle stop. The vehicle failed to comply at which time communications was advised via police radio of the situation and transmitted the approximate speed of the vehicle being operated by Jeffrey Troxell. Troxell continued to flee and operate his vehicle with complete disregard of the officer’s emergency lights and audible siren. He then began to approach a congested area at which time the pursuit was terminated due to the increased risk of danger to the public. After termination of the pursuit, the vehicle was observed continually being operated in a reckless manner with complete disregard of traffic laws and placing those in close proximity in danger.

Additional marked patrol units in the area observed the vehicle after the pursuit was terminated, cross over a median and travel in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic. Patrol units were then advised to clear the area as Troxell was wanted for Title 39 violations and his identity was known.

A short time later, headquarters advised patrol units that the suspect vehicle returned to the area and had entered Resurrection Cemetery located at 899 East Lincoln Avenue. Officers responded to the cemetery and observed a funeral taking place which caused a safety concern. Police supervisors made a decision to close and secure the gates of the cemetery to contain Troxell. While in the cemetery, Troxell continued to operate his vehicle in an erratic and reckless manner with complete disregard for the safety of others. On multiple occasions, Troxell’s vehicle came within close proximity to the funeral which consisted of a large group of people. Troxell subsequently drove his vehicle on the grass past the funeral before slowing down. At that time Officer #1 approached the vehicle on foot and drew his weapon in an attempt to cease the pursuit and to protect those attending the funeral. Troxell then accelerated towards Officer #1 who fired one round from his department issued firearm before the vehicle struck him causing him to fall to the ground. Troxell was not struck by the round fired from the weapon of Officer #1. Immediately after striking Officer #1, the vehicle continued to flee and Troxell refused to comply with other officers commands to stop.

The vehicle ultimately became damaged after it drove over curbs at a high rate of speed. The tires became deflated which slowed the vehicle providing officers an opportunity to surround it in the grassy area closest to Hoes Lane blocking off any avenues of escape. At that time, officers exited their patrol vehicles and approached Troxell’s vehicle giving verbal commands to stop the vehicle and exit. Troxell failed to comply with the officers’ commands and continued to press on the accelerator while the vehicle was stuck, in an attempt to continue to evade capture. Officer #2 then approached the passenger side of Troxell’s vehicle and deployed a Conducted Energy Device (CED) which provided an immediate reaction and allowed officers an opportunity to gain control of Troxell who was then removed from the vehicle and placed under arrest.

As is customary in all police-involved shooting investigations, Officer #1’s training records were reviewed and it was determined that he has received and successfully completed all annual mandatory firearms and Use of Force training prior to this incident.

Upon completion of this investigation, the matter was reviewed by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, as well as the appropriate authority within the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.

The investigation concerning the use of deadly force in this matter determined that the level of force utilized was justifiable under N.J.S.A. 2C: 3-4, specifically by Jeffrey Troxell ignoring commands to stop his vehicle and operating it in a manner which placed the public’s safety at risk as well as the safety of law enforcement, specifically Officer #1 by recklessly and purposely operating a motor vehicle in the direction of Officer #1 with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death. The officer, having a reasonable belief that in the absence of such level of force, he (Officer #1) and other officers present at the scene were in jeopardy of incurring serious bodily injury or death.

It should be noted that in accordance with New Jersey Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2006-5 Supplemental, as well as standard practice by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in such matters, no conflict of interest existed between the principals involved in conducting or supervising this investigation with any of the subjects involved in the incident in question. Furthermore, all portions of the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police use of force investigations that were in effect during the course of this investigation were complied with.


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