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Paterson Police Officer Indicted for Alleged Shooting Incident Resulting in Victim's Paralysis


By: Richard L. Smith 

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, alongside the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), announced that a state grand jury has issued criminal charges against a Paterson police officer.

The charges stem from an incident in June 2022, during which the officer allegedly shot a fleeing man in the back, leaving the victim paralyzed.AdOn December 6, 2023, Jerry Moravek, 40, of Paterson, was indicted by the grand jury.

He faces charges of aggravated assault (2nd degree) and official misconduct (2nd degree). It is essential to note that these charges are accusations, and Moravek is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the importance of sound judgment exercised by police officers, reserving the use of force for justified situations.

In this instance, the grand jury determined that the use of deadly force against the fleeing victim was not justified.

Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA, echoed this sentiment, stating that deadly force should be a last resort, applied only when necessary to protect lives from imminent danger.

In this case, it is alleged that the victim was shot while running away, posing no immediate threat to the officer or bystanders, ultimately resulting in permanent disability.

According to court statements and public filings:

On June 11, 2022, around 3:15 a.m., Officer Moravek was on duty when he pursued the victim, ordering him to drop a gun during a foot chase.

The defendant never commanded the victim to stop or get on the ground and did not issue a warning regarding the use of deadly force. Despite the victim's continued attempt to escape, Moravek discharged his duty weapon, striking the victim in the back on John Street in Paterson.AdBody-worn camera footage did not show the victim brandishing a firearm or posing a threat. No weapon was found in the victim's possession or within reach at the time.

After being shot, the victim informed Moravek that he was running out of fear and was unarmed.

The gunshot left bullet fragments in the victim's spine, resulting in his paralysis. Attorney General's guidelines, Paterson Police Department Standard Operating Procedures, and state law stipulate that deadly force is only permissible when immediately necessary to protect lives.

Its use against a fleeing suspect is exceptionally rare and should only occur when that suspect poses an imminent threat to public safety.

Second-degree charges carry a potential sentence of five to ten years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.