KNOWLTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Timothy Parks, 34, of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, who was shot and fatally wounded by two State Troopers on November 7, 2021.
Mr. Parks’ 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, review of Body Worn Camera footage, review of motor vehicle recording footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. This evidence, including video of the incident, as well as video interviews of the involved officers, was presented to the grand jury. After hearing the testimony and evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations Monday, February 27, 2023, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded no criminal charges should be filed against State Troopers Joselo Machuca and Eduardo Tejada.
According to the investigation, New Jersey State Police Troopers Joselo Machuca and Eduardo Tejada responded to a motor vehicle incident on Starlite Hill Road, Knowlton, NJ. Shortly after 1:30 a.m., two Troopers approached a vehicle which was stopped with the front end in a ditch, and in the vehicle were a driver and a dog. While Troopers were attempting to communicate with the driver, the driver moved a rifle to the right and fatally shot the dog. According to Trooper Tejada, Mr. Parks continued to move the rifle to the right toward the direction of Trooper Tejada. Troopers then fired their weapons into the vehicle, fatally wounding Mr. Parks. Troopers and medical personnel rendered first aid to Mr. Parks, who was subsequently transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania and was pronounced deceased shortly after 2:30 a.m.
The recordings were previously released and posted online: Click here for recordings.
A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to 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. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved. The grand jury is instructed on the elements of the potential criminal offenses, including criminal homicide offenses, that could be brought and, as required by statutes, the grand jury is instructed on self-defense and other forms of legal justification.
A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.
At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.
The Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website at this link:
Further information about how fatal police encounters are investigated in New Jersey under the directive is found at this link: https://www.njoag.gov/independent-prosecutor/