Waddy Family Asks AG To Look Into Case; Protest March Planned for Saturday
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 • 6:19am
PATERSON, NJ – The family of the man killed in a 1st Ward motorcycle crash in April that resulted in criminal charges against two Paterson auxiliary police officers has filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, asking state law enforcement authorities to intervene in the case, said their attorney.
Randolph Waddy’s family members said in interviews his week that they were dissatisfied with the decision by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office to file official misconduct charges against the auxiliary police officers.
“Too many people saw what happened for them to be just charged with that,’’ said Waddy’s aunt, Lavina Johnson, who is organizing a march on Saturday to protest the situation.
Witnesses have maintained that the Paterson Office of Emergency Management van driven by the auxiliary police had been chasing Waddy, who was 31, and eventually hit him from behind on N. 1st Street.
Waddy’s father, Hamzah Abdus Salaam, said he believed additional charges, including vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident, should have been filed against the auxiliary police. “The whole thing has been extremely show,’’ said Salaam. “It’s created the appearance that they were trying to cover something up.’’
In announcing the initial charges against the auxiliary police officers – Juan Martinez, 30, of Patterson and Jonathan Lopez, 29, of Hackensack – the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office in May said the investigation would continue. The assistant prosecutor who released information on the case back in the spring is away this week. Another official, to whom his voice mail referred questions, did not return a phone message seeking an update on the investigation.
The Attorney General’s Office could not confirm whether it received the complaint filed by Broderick.
The family’s lawyer, Brandon Broderick, said authorities told him the case would be presented to a grand jury in the fall. Broderick said that in his letter to the AG’s office he maintained that the official misconduct charges were “inconsistent with the evidence.’’ Broderick asserted that the Waddy family has found four witnesses who say they saw the van driven by the officers hit the motorcycle. At least two of those witnesses, Broderick said, have been interviewed by prosecutor’s investigators.
The prosecutor’s May 17 press release on the misconduct charges does not give precise details on how the crash that killed Waddy happened.
Here’s how the press release described the basis for the misconduct charges: “…both Martinez and Lopez violated Office of Emergency Management regulations immediately prior to and at the scene of the fatal crash. Thus far the investigation has revealed that the siren on the Office of Emergency Management vehicle was activated in a manner that would lead a reasonable observer to conclude a motor vehicle stop was being effectuated, a direct violation of Office of Emergency Management procedure. Furthermore, the two Office of Emergency Management officers witnessed the fatal crash as they were following the motorcycle from a distance of 100 feet or less and failed to stop and render aid. Finally, the officers failed to contact their superiors or members of the Paterson Police Department to report the accident that ultimately claimed the life of the victim, in violation of Office of Emergency Management procedural policy.’’
Broderick said that the complaint submitted to the AG’s office also called into question the presence of Paterson Emergency Management Director Glenn Brown at the scene of the crash moments after it happened. “He was there before anyone else,’’ said Broderick. “It’s just common sense that these guys knew what they did and then called their boss.’’
Brown, who is also the director of Paterson’s Fire and Police Department, previously had served as chief of detectives for the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. Brown, who retired from the prosecutor’s office, could not be reached for comment for this story.
In the spring, in response to the Waddy case, Brown deactivated the whole Paterson auxiliary police force. It has not yet been reinstated, he said last week.
The Waddy family has filed a notice of tort claim alerting city and county officials that they may be targets of a civil lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family members are planning a 9 am march on Sat., Aug. 18 that will begin at the scene of the crash on N. 1st Street and end at City Hall. Waddy’s family and friends had held several rallies in the spring during the month between his death and the filing of the criminal charges against the auxiliary police officers.
“We’re not going away,’’ said Johnson.