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TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released a recording from a security camera that captured limited video footage of a fatal motor vehicle accident in Clifton, N.J., on October 22 in which a police vehicle struck and killed a 65-year-old female pedestrian.
The fatal accident remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). However, the recording is being released pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” which governs use-of-force investigations and investigations of any death that occurs in the custody of law enforcement or during an encounter with a law enforcement officer in New Jersey. The Directive requires that such records, if requested, be released to the public once the initial phase of the investigation is substantially complete, which is the case in this matter.
Prior to today’s release, investigators provided the video recording to the victim’s representative and relatives for their review.
Overview of Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident
At approximately 7:11 p.m. on October 22, 2020, Officer Garrell Middleton of the Clifton Police Department was responding to a radio alert of a crime in progress with the emergency lights on his patrol vehicle activated when he was involved in an accident at the intersection of Allwood Road and Brookwood Road in which he struck a female pedestrian.
Officer Middleton rendered medical aid to the victim, and emergency medical personnel transported her to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, where she was pronounced deceased at 7:42 p.m.
A security camera near the scene captured audio and limited video footage of the accident. Other video and audio recordings were sought and obtained by investigators, but the one released today is the only one that captured the fatal encounter.
The recording is posted online. Click here for recording.
The investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L.2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time. Under state law and the Independent Prosecutor Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.
As indicated above, this investigation is being conducted in compliance with procedures and requirements established in the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued by Attorney General Grewal in December 2019 and outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are done fully, fairly, and independently of any potential bias. A copy of the Directive is available at this link:
https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/2019-4_Independent_Prosecutor_Directive.pdf, and a summary of that 10-step process is available at this link: