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Grand Jury Clears Elizabeth Police Officer in Fatal Shooting Incident


By: Richard L. Smith 

A state grand jury has concluded its deliberations without filing any criminal charges in the case of Mr. Estiben Alegria-Hurtado, a 42-year-old man from Elizabeth who was fatally shot by a police officer on July 29, 2023.AdThe incident, which has been under scrutiny, involved Officer Steven Lazo of the Elizabeth Police Department.

The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) conducted a thorough investigation into Mr. Alegria-Hurtado's death.

This included reviewing witness statements, photographs, home surveillance, body-worn camera footage, ballistics, and autopsy results.

The comprehensive evidence was presented to the grand jury, which, after careful consideration on March 18, 2024, voted "no bill," indicating that they found no grounds for criminal charges against Officer Lazo.

The investigation shed light on the circumstances leading to the tragic event. Police were responding to a 911 call about an unwanted individual at a residence on Amity Street in Elizabeth.

Upon arrival, officers encountered two males attempting to restrain Mr. Alegria-Hurtado, who was armed with a knife and threatening a female.

Officer Lazo discharged his weapon when Mr. Alegria-Hurtado escalated the threat by grabbing the woman and raising the knife.AdDespite immediate medical assistance from the officers, Mr. Alegria-Hurtado succumbed to his injuries at University Hospital in Newark the following day.

This case was handled in line with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019, which mandates a neutral and transparent approach to such grand jury proceedings.

The public can access the audio recording of the 911 call and the police body-worn camera footage documenting the incident through the link provided by the OPIA.

This decision marks a significant moment in the ongoing discussions about police conduct and accountability.