The troopers’ actions were justified, a grand jury has found.
Panel members reviewed a collection of videos, among other evidence, before rendering their decision earlier this week, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said Thursday, March 2.
The videos, which can be found here, show the two troopers approaching the disabled vehicle from either side on Starlite Hill Road in the Columbia section of Knowlton in Warren County shortly after 1:30 a.m. on Nov 7, 2021.
Behind the wheel is Timothy Parks, 34, of Saylorsburg, PA.
A dog is seated on the passenger side.
Faint strains of Tyler Childers's 2019 hit, "All Your'n," can be heard from inside as the troopers ask Parks if he's OK.
The dog starts moving into the backseat and the troopers instantly back up.
One of them shouts at Parks: "Keep your hands on that wheel!"
Parks then turns up the volume and takes a swig from a can that he sets on the dashboard.
Then he pulls out a cigarette.
"Hey! Hey! Keep your hands on the wheel!" one trooper shouts as Parks lights up.
VIEW THE RECORDINGS: NJ Attorney General / Knowlton / Timothy Parks (Nov. 7, 2021)
The trooper repeats the command as Parks taps his chest with both hands, signaling the dog to come to him.
He then reaches into the back of the vehicle and grabs a rifle.
"Hey! Hey! Don't touch the gun!" one trooper yells. "Do not touch the gun!" the other shouts.
Parks then shoots the dog and begins pointing the rifle at one of them.
Both troopers then open fire.
Parks opens the door, staggers out of the car and falls in front of it. A trooper finds him still alive.
“Troopers and medical personnel rendered first aid to Mr. Parks, who was subsequently transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania and was pronounced deceased shortly after 2:30 a.m.,” said Platkin, the New Jersey attorney general.
He didn't say what happened to the dog.
Despite the obvious circumstances, both state law and his own guidelines require Platkin to investigate any and all deaths that occur “during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody."
The guidelines guarantee that the investigation is done “in a full, impartial and transparent manner."
Part of the process was publicly releasing audio and video recordings of the incident after first reviewing them with Parks’s family.
The results of the entire investigation by the AG’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) were presented to the grand jury to determine whether or not there was cause to suspect any wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement.
The evidence included witness and trooper interviews, forensic evidence, autopsy findings and a review of the various video clips.
The grand jury concluded its deliberations earlier this week by voting a “no bill” -- meaning there should be no criminal charges against NJSP Troopers Joselo Machuca and Eduardo Tejada, Platkin said.
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