Prosecutor: Newark Officer In Wrong-Way DWI Crash Among Four Who Went Barhopping On Duty

One of four Newark police officers who went barhopping and lied about it was drunk when he drove the wrong way down a one-way street and crashed his vehicle into a car containing a mother and four children, authorities charged.

<p>Newark Police Officers Michael Chirico (left), Tashia Jones, and Erik Blount (right), Lt. Norberto Soares</p>

Newark Police Officers Michael Chirico (left), Tashia Jones, and Erik Blount (right), Lt. Norberto Soares


Michael Chirico, 55, of Newark, was charged after the University Avenue crash, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens III said Thursday.

Authorities also charged Lt. Norberto Soares, 42, of Kenilworth and Officers Erik Blount, 33, and Tashia Jones, 35, both of Newark with tampering with public records, he said.

Investigators found false entries made by the officers, including claiming that they’d responded to incidents that they hadn’t, Stephens said.

Surveillance footage and other evidence proves they were “at bar consuming alcohol while in uniform and on duty working for the Newark Police Department,” he said.

The officers’ actions, Stephens said, “undermines confidence in law enforcement, and gives a bad name to the vast majority of our officers who risk their lives each day to protect the public.

“Not only did these officers barhop around the city of Newark while on duty and in full uniform, but they lied in an attempt to cover it up. One officer’s conduct put innocent people at risk.”

The Professional Standards Bureau of Stephens’s office is conducting the ongoing investigation along with the Newark PD Internal Affairs Unit and Consent Decree Unit, the prosecutor said.

“The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has a zero tolerance policy toward officers who violate their oath and the public trust that comes with it,” Stephens said.

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