The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office announced today that a Grand Jury has indicted two former Paterson auxiliary officers for official misconduct.
According to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, the panel found reasonable cause to indict Juan Martinez and Jonathan Lopez on a single count of official misconduct, a crime of the second degree. The panel also found reasonable cause to indict Martinez on a single count of hindering his own apprehension.
The indictment stems from an incident that transpired on April 17, 2012, wherein Martinez and Lopez were allegedly riding in an Office of Emergency Management vehicle. Although they had no authority to make traffic stops, the two purportedly turned on the vehicle’s sirens and horns while traveling behind a motorcycle being driven by a 31-year old Garfield man. Their actions caused the motorcyclist to accelerate and lose control over his motorcycle, which then crashed. The motorcyclist was thrown from his motorcycle. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died.
Martinez and Lopez apparently witnessed the crash, but did not stop or report the incident to the police or their superiors. Martinez also later provided false information to a local detective investigating the incident, leading to his hindering charge. For more information, see the NJ.com article entitled, “Paterson auxiliary officers indicted for allegedly causing crash that killed Garfield man.”
If convicted of official misconduct, a second degree crime, Martinez and Lopez face between five and ten years in New Jersey State Prison. If also convicted of hindering apprehension, likely charged in this instance as a crime of the third degree, Martinez faces three to five years in New Jersey State Prison. Both Martinez and Lopez will likely also have to forfeit any future public employment.