State Grand Jury Declines to Criminally Charge Officer in Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident that Occurred in Long Branch on August 14, 2023

For Immediate Release: February 20, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Dan Prochilo

TRENTON A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges against a Long Branch police officer at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Tracee Blount, 38, of Long Branch, New Jersey, in a fatal vehicle collision on August 14, 2023.

Ms. Blount’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 state 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 witness interviews, photographs, dashboard camera footage, body-worn camera footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. This evidence, including available video of the incident, was presented to a state grand jury. After hearing the testimony and evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on February 5, 2024, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded no criminal charges should be filed against Long Branch Police Officer Lucas Brito.

According to the investigation, on August 14, 2023, at 3:59 a.m., a 911 caller reported an armed break-in at his residence. In response, Long Branch police officers were dispatched to the residence. As they responded in marked police vehicles, Officer Brito was involved in a collision with a civilian vehicle in the area of MacArthur and Elmwood Avenues.  It was later learned that the operator of that vehicle, Altonia Williams, was a suspect leaving the area of the residential break-in.

Ms. Blount, the front seat passenger in the vehicle, was seriously injured in the crash. She was transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, where she was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:12 a.m. The driver, later identified as Mr. Williams, 46, of Long Branch, was taken into custody and transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center for treatment. Officer Brito was also taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries from the crash and later released.

Audio recordings of 911 calls and police radio communications, as well as dashboard and body-worn camera footage, related to this fatal collision were previously released and are available here:

In November 2023, a Monmouth County grand jury returned a 19-count indictment against Mr. Williams for his alleged role in the break-in and fatal accident. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s criminal investigation into these charges is ongoing. The charges in that case are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

N.J.S.A. 52:17B-107(a)(2) 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 and is available here: Independent Prosecutor Directive

OPIA’s standard operating procedures for grand jury presentations of investigations involving fatal police encounters are also posted on the Attorney General’s website, and are available here: OPIA Grand Jury SOPs.


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