Investigators in New Brunswick have not released many details about the officer-involved shooting that killed Barry Deloatch, but his family members say he would have never carried a weapon and did nothing wrong. Pat Battle reports.
Two police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a New Brunswick man will not be in uniform or on the streets until a departmental review is completed, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said Friday.
Kaplan said he's also received assurances the New Brunswick police officers' failure to carry batons and chemical spray with them during the incident has been addressed within the department.
Police say Barry Deloatch fled when Officers Brad Berdel and Daniel Mazan approached him and two other men Sept. 22 because the officers say the men were behaving suspiciously. The chase ended with Berdel shooting Deloatch once, killing him.
Police say the 46-year-old Deloatch threatened Officer Mazan with a wooden board. But Deloatch's family said he was unarmed, and prosecutors noted the officers didn't have their police-issued batons at the time. Berdel also didn't have his chemical spray.
Kaplan announced Thursday that a grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against Berdel.
Patricia Bombelyn, a lawyer for Deloatch's family, said Kaplan was unable to say during a meeting earlier Friday what corrective action has been taken following the killing.
"That was a bitter pill to swallow, that there was no indictment here," Bombelyn said. "But that really added insult to injury when the prosecutor could not say that any corrective action had been taken."
After an Associated Press reporter asked about Bombelyn's criticism, Kaplan said later in the day that his office had talked with the department about the officers' failure to carry the equipment. He didn't comment on the meeting with Bombelyn and family members earlier in the day.
"We received assurance from the director that the issue has been addressed and that he will continue to monitor the situation to ensure compliance," Kaplan said in a statement.
Bombelyn said it remains unclear how the grand jury determined no crime was committed by the officer.
"The family left today feeling that there's been no justice brought to them in any respect," she said. "And they want that. They want to have a sense of justice."
Deloatch's two sons said in a statement released Thursday they are shocked and disappointed by the decision. They said the shooting was at least grossly negligent and the product of a dysfunctional department, and at worst a crime.
"We are devastated," the statement reads. "This is not right."
Kaplan said Thursday that the grand jury met for 11 consecutive weeks, heard 57 witnesses and reviewed 280 exhibits. He said the decision would withstand the scrutiny of a review by any state or federal agency.
"While the shooting is a tragedy on many levels, it is clear that the grand jury conducted a thorough, impartial and independent review," Kaplan said.
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