Paterson police officer facing charges after shooting suspect in the back, AG says

Paterson, NJ Photo 162796637 © Mihai Andritoiu | Dreamstime.com

PATERSON, NJ – A Paterson cop has been charged by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for allegedly shooting a perp in the back, leaving the suspect with a disabling permanent spinal injury.

Attorney General Matt Platkin contends Jerry Moravek, 40, a Paterson Police officer, shot a suspect near a crime scene without ever telling the perp to ‘stop running’ or to ‘get on the ground’, but did tell the suspect to ‘drop your gun’ repeatedly. Moravek was chasing the suspect.

“Jerry Moravek was acting in his capacity as a police officer with the Paterson Police Department when he engaged in a foot chase with the victim.  During that pursuit, Movarek repeatedly ordered the victim to drop the gun, but never once ordered him to stop running, to get to ground or warn the victim that he was going to use deadly force,” Platkin said in a court briefing. “As the individual continued running, Moravek discharged his duty weapon, hitting the victim in the back and rendering him unable to walk.  The body worn camera footage does not depict the victim brandishing any firearm or pointing a firearm at the defendant, other officers or any member of the public.  No gun was found in the victim’s possession nor within his reach.”

The gunshot to the victim’s back left bullet fragments in his spine, leaving him unable to walk.

Platkin said the case against the Paterson police officer was part of an ongoing effort to stand up against excessive force by police, a statewide mandate by Platkin and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

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“We have promised to never be complacent and we have made a commitment to stand up against unnecessary and excessive uses of force by those with a duty to protect the public, enforce the law and promote justice. There is no more significant action than the use of deadly force.  Not only can it result in the unnecessary loss of life or permanent injuries and disabilities, but instances of uncalled-for, disproportional and destructive use of deadly force sow distrust in, and erodes respect for, law enforcement among the community,” Platkin said. “Law enforcement officers across the country put themselves at risk every day, and in New Jersey they receive extensive training to be able to determine when a threat is genuine and how to resolve a situation without the use of deadly force. Every case deserves a thorough investigation and here we have determined that the use of deadly force was not justified. A young man’s life will never be the same because of the unnecessary action by this officer, which contradicted his police training and his oath to protect and preserve life.”

If convicted of the charges, Moravek could face up to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison on each count.