New Jersey Rules On Deadly Force By Police Are Clear
Daniel Wolfe, a 35-year-old man allegedly accelerated a stolen SUV toward a State Police Trooper on Tuesday evening and was shot dead. Wolfe had been released from prison in January, according to the Department of Corrections, after serving five years for burglary, theft and other charges.
Police indicate that Wolfe was driving a stolen vehicle. Wolfe’s relatives claim that the car was not stolen and owned by the tow company for whom Wolfe was working. Authorities say that Wolfe allegedly accelerated the SUV toward a State Police trooper who then fired multiple rounds striking Wolfe in the shoulder and chest. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The shooting will now trigger a lengthy investigation by a special team of investigators. The rules for use of deadly force by police in New Jersey are clear. Was there an imminent threat and was the force reasonable to protect the Trooper’s own life? A Shooting Response Team will be appointed, which will consist of Troopers assigned to the State Police Major Crime Unit. Some have criticized Troopers investigating fellow Troopers as a conflict of interest. Once the investigation is completed, the deputy attorney general will determine whether the case should be presented to a grand jury for a review of whether deadly force was justified.
The Shooting Response Team opened 53 investigations from 2005 through today according to the Attorney General’s Office and of those 53 cases, 20 were presented to a state grand jury. Two resulted in criminal charges. No trooper was found to have been unjustified in the use of deadly force.