Grand Jury Backs North Jersey Police Officer Who Shot Fleeing Driver Trying To Kill Him

UPDATE: A Riverdale police officer was justified in shooting a fleeing suspect who slammed a vehicle into his patrol car, pinning him, following a pursuit that ended in Passaic County, a grand jury has found.



Photo Credit: Boyd A. Loving (FILE PHOTO)

Officer Andrew Duffy had tried to stop Michael Rivera, 32, of Newark, who "jumped into a vehicle and started it" following a shoplifting at the Home Depot on northbound Route 23 the morning of Jan. 23, 2020, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck said Tuesday.

Duffy tried but couldn't get the keys out of the ignition, then fell back as the Acura SUV sped off, he said.

"Police were alerted to be on the lookout for the suspect vehicle, which was later spotted and pursued by officers from local police agencies, including Officer Duffy," Bruck said.

Police units pursued Rivera into Mathews Drive, a cul-de-sac in Bloomingdale, the attorney general said.

After driving over an unpaved, raised bushy area between driveways, Rivera gunned the SUV toward Duffy as the officer got out of his police car, Bruck said.

The Acura struck Duffy’s vehicle, pinning the officer, he said.

Duffy fired multiple rounds, one of which struck Rivera, the attorney general said.

Police and EMS workers administered first aid and Rivera was taken to Chilton Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Duffy was treated before being released.

Both state law and his own guidelines require the attorney general 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."

Once the investigation was complete, the results 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 grand jury reviewed interviews of witnesses, forensic evidence, video footage and autopsy results, Bruck said. The juror returned what's known as a "no bill," finding no fault with Duffy's actions.

An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey "when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm," Bruck noted.

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