Paterson, NJ

Paterson Officer Charged for Shooting Fleeing Suspect

Morristown Minute
State Grand Jury Criminally Charges Paterson Police Officer In Connection with June 2022 Shooting of Fleeing Man in the Back.Photo byMorristown Minute

New Jersey Grand Jury Indicts Local Policeman for Alleged Misuse of Deadly Force in 2022 Incident.

Paterson, NJ – A state grand jury has brought charges against Jerry Moravek, a Paterson police officer, for his involvement in the shooting of a fleeing individual in June 2022, which resulted in paralysis for the victim. Announced by Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, the indictment was made public on December 6, 2023.

Moravek, 40, faces charges of second-degree aggravated assault and official misconduct. These charges, while serious, are only accusations at this stage, with Moravek presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the criticality of responsible force use by police, stating, "Police officers...exercise sound judgment, using force only when justified.”

Platkin added that deadly force against a fleeing suspect is permissible solely to avert imminent danger, a criterion not met in this case, as alleged by the grand jury.

The indictment, as outlined by Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA, reflects a breach of protocol, where deadly force was allegedly used unnecessarily, causing irreversible harm to the victim.

The incident occurred on June 11, 2022, around 3:15 a.m., when Moravek, on duty, pursued the victim on foot in Paterson. Despite ordering the victim to drop a gun, Moravek reportedly did not warn of impending deadly force use. The victim, shot in the back, was found unarmed, with a discarded firearm later found nearby.

Body-cam footage failed to show the victim armed or threatening anyone. The resulting gunshot caused severe spinal injury to the victim, confining him to a wheelchair.

New Jersey's guidelines on police use of force dictate that deadly force is a last resort, applicable when needed to protect from imminent danger. Second-degree charges like those Moravek faces could result in five to ten years in state prison and fines up to $150,000.

The case is under the jurisdiction of OPIA Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Kormann, with supervision from Deputy Director Anthony Picione and Executive Director Eicher.

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