Two Auxiliary Officers Indicted in Fatal Motorcycle Crash; Victim's Family Not Satisfied With the Charges
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 • 1:07pm
PATERSON, NJ – Two former auxiliary police officers have been indicted on official misconduct charges in connection with the death last year of a 31-year-old Paterson man in a motorcycle crash, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes announced on Tuesday.
The prosecutor’s office said the former officers, Juan Martinez and Jonathan Lopez, violated Office of Emergency Management regulations immediately prior to and at the scene of the crash on N. 1st Street last April that resulted in the death of Randolph Waddy.
But an attorney retained by Waddy’s family said they are not satisfied with the charges levied against the former officers.
“My clients maintain, based on witness accounts, that this was more than just official misconduct,’’ said the lawyer, Brandon Broderick. “We believe based on those witness accounts that there was contact between the auxiliary police vehicle and the motorcycle which was the direct cause of his death.’’
Broderick said he is preparing a federal lawsuit against the city. “This indictment is a far cry from what actually happened,’’ he said, calling the charges filed against the former officers “an additional injustice.”
In announcing the indictment, the prosecutor’s office said Martinez – in an unauthorized manner - activated the horn and siren on the Office of Emergency Management vehicle they were driving through the 1st Ward, which led to the reasonable belief that they were attempting to conduct a motor vehicle stop. Office of Emergency Management personnel are not authorized to conduct motor-vehicle stops, according to regulations, the prosecutor’s press release said.
The actions of Martinez and Lopez prompted Randolph Waddy to accelerate and lose control of the motorcycle resulting in a crash into the rear of a parked motor vehicle, according to the prosecutor’s office. After witnessing the crash, Martinez and Lopez did not stop, did not contact their superiors or members of the Paterson Police Department, and did not attempt to help Waddy, as was required by regulations, the prosecutor’s announcement said.
Waddy later died at the hospital.
Martinez also has been charged with Hindering One’s Own Apprehension, which the prosecutor’s announcement said stemmed his attempts to provide misleading information to investigating officers.
In the aftermath of the April 17, 2012 incident, the city suspended the operations of its auxiliary police force. At present, the city is working on a plan to create a special police force, which would be used to handle duties like crowd control at parades and patrols of Paterson parks.
In the first month after the fatal crash, the Waddy family and its supporters held several rallies in the city, demanding justice. At that point, no one had been arrested in the case. It was until May 17, 2012 that the prosecutor’s office filed the initial charges of official misconduct.
The family’s lawyer said he has put authorities in contact with the witnesses who say the auxiliary police officers’ vehicle struck the motorcycle. The prosecutor’s press release did not address those allegations. Broderick also said the family has questions about the way the police van was handled as evidence.
The lawyer said he plans to file a federal lawsuit alleging Waddy’s civil rights were violated. Broderick questioned the vigor of the investigation.
“How is it that this city did not turn itself upside down over this apparent and impalpable injustice?’’ he asked.