This week, a grand jury indicted a Jersey City police officer who struck and killed a man crossing Kennedy Boulevard in April.
36-year-old Michael Spolizino was off duty and driving on Kennedy Boulevard on April 19 when he allegedly struck 24-year-old Jersey City resident Stephen A. Clifford, a pedestrian who was crossing Kennedy Boulevard at Fairmount Avenue. Mr. Clifford was rushed to the Jersey City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
A witness at the scene told responding police officers that Mr. Clifford was crossing the street while the light was green.
After the accident, Mr. Spolizino was issued summonses for speeding, careless driving, and failure to wear a seatbelt.
About two (2) weeks ago, a grand jury convened in Hudson County Superior Court to consider charges against Mr. Spolizino. This week, the grand jury returned an indictment: Mr. Spolizino will face charges of aggravated manslaughter, death by auto, and leaving the scene of an accident.
Aggravated manslaughter in New Jersey is addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4. As set forth by the statute, first degree aggravated manslaughter occurs when a person recklessly causes death while manifesting extreme indifference to human life. If convicted of this charge, Mr. Spolizino could face a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years in New Jersey State Prison. Additionally, because the No Early Release Act (NERA) applies to first degree aggravated manslaughter, Mr. Spolizino would be required to serve at least 85% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
As a result of the indictment, Mr. Spolizino has been placed on modified assignment with the Jersey City Police Department while he awaits trial. He will be limited to desk duty until the case is resolved.
For more information, see the NJ.com article entitled “Jersey City Cop Indicted on Manslaughter, Two Other Charges in Fatal Crash.”