By: Richard L. Smith
A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Mark D. Walker II, 34, of Woodbridge, Virginia, who was shot and fatally wounded by police officers in Long Branch on November 6, 2021.
Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General, said Mr. Walker’s death was investigated by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019.
In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the directive.
The investigation included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, and a review of body-worn camera footage, video surveillance, motor vehicle recording footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner.
This evidence, including video of the incident, as well as interviews of the involved officers, was presented to the grand jury.
After hearing the testimony and evidence and receiving instructions on the law, the grand jury concluded its deliberations Monday, May 15, 2023, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded that no criminal charges should be filed against Monmouth County Emergency Response Team (MOCERT) Officers Daniel Murphy, Omar Akel, and Eric Voorand.
According to the investigation, AG Matthew J. Platkin, on Nov. 5 at approximately 5:10 p.m., members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office were attempting to execute a residential search warrant on Chelsea Avenue in Long Branch.
As county detectives executed the warrant, Mr. Walker shot one of the detectives in the lower leg.
The county detective who was shot in the leg was taken to a local hospital and discharged later in the evening.
The detectives retreated and repositioned outside of the building, and Mr. Walker barricaded himself inside with his two-week-old infant. The MOCERT was deployed and took over the scene.
Negotiators contacted Mr. Walker, who expressed his desire to surrender.
He was provided with directions about how to do so safely, specifically that a family member planned to respond to the residence and take the baby, after which Walker would surrender. Negotiations continued for approximately seven hours without success.
Mr. Walker repeatedly stated that he would surrender but failed each time. Around 2 a.m., a fire erupted in the apartment building. Mr. Walker fled the building, holding the infant in his arms.
As he ran out of the burning building, Mr. Walker fired several rounds from a handgun in the officers’ direction and struck a BearCat vehicle parked in the roadway.
Three members of MOCERT returned fire and fatally wounded Mr. Walker, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The infant was not injured. The entire residence caught fire and sustained extensive fire damage. It was later determined by the Fire Marshall that the fire was intentionally set from within the building.
The officers who fired at Mr. Walker were identified as Patrolman Eric Voorand of the Manalapan Township Police Department, Patrolman Daniel Murphy of the Howell Township Police Department, and Patrolman Omar Akel of the Middletown Township Police Department.
The recordings were previously released and posted online: Click here for the recordings.