The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office (ACPO) has completed its investigation into the use of deadly force on June 22, 2018, by an Atlantic City Police Officer. It has been concluded this use of deadly force was legally justified. ACPO further determined it is not necessary to present the matter to the Grand Jury as there are no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of this use of force. This investigation was conducted in accordance with the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor’s Directive (July 28, 2015, Attorney General Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations) (“Directive”). Pursuant to the Directive, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with ACPO’s determination there were no material facts in dispute and the use of deadly force by the Officer involved was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with ACPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.
The incident occurred on June 22, 2018, at approximately 6:28 p.m., when Atlantic City Police Officers responded to the 600 block of N. Kentucky Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ, for a hit and run traffic accident with injuries. As Officers were conducting the scene investigation, an uninvolved adult male approached and entered the scene. In an unprovoked attack, the man subsequently stabbed the Atlantic City Police Officer in the torso with a knife. In response, the Officer fired his service weapon and struck the assailant. The knife wielding man was subsequently identified as Timothy Deal, a 32 year old man from Atlantic City. The Officer and Mr. Deal were both transported to the Trauma Unit at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City. Mr. Deal ultimately died as a result of his injuries.
As per the New Jersey Attorney General Guidelines which existed prior to the recent legislation signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy, the Division of Criminal Justice was notified and the Atlantic County Major Crimes Unit conducted this investigation without the participation of the Atlantic City Police Department.
The investigation conducted by members of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office determined two Officers present were wearing operational Body Worn Cameras (BWC) at the time of the assault. These cameras captured the above described incident. The camera footage was consistent with the information obtained from multiple witnesses who were present at the time of the shooting. These witnesses included both civilians and members of the Atlantic City Fire Department, who were present on scene addressing the needs of the earlier traffic accident.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Forensic Crime Scene Unit processed the scene. Among the items recovered were two knives, one of which was used by the victim to stab the Atlantic City Police Officer.
An interview was conducted with the involved Officer. The Officer observed Mr. Deal pull a knife from his front right pocket. The Officer ordered Mr. Deal to drop the knife, but he continued his attack on the Officer. The Officer stated he then fired his duty weapon, after having been stabbed, because he was in fear for his life.
Applying the Directive to the undisputed material facts outlined above, it is the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s belief the use of deadly force by the Officer was justified pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4, Use of Force in Self Protection. The statute states “the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” The law defines a “reasonable belief” as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence situated as the actor was.
The Office of the Attorney General concurred with the findings of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The police officer involved in this matter acted in self-defense to protect him and the public from the imminent danger posed by Mr. Deal and did not involve any suspected criminal activity which would require review by a Grand Jury. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with Section 8 of the Directive.