TRENTON – A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Bradley G. Pullman, 48, of Queens, N.Y., who was fatally shot by police officers on April 26, 2020 in Wayne, N.J.
The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to 16 to 23 New Jersey residents called to serve on the grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive” issued in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure that these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, and with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive. The investigation of this fatal police encounter included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of video footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations yesterday, Jan. 25, and a majority of grand jurors found that the actions of the officers who shot Mr. Pullman were justified and no charges should be filed against them.
According to the investigation, on April 26, 2020 at approximately 4:30 p.m., a Mountain Lakes police officer in a marked vehicle attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop of a Lexus sedan driven by Mr. Pullman after he allegedly performed an illegal U-turn over the median of Route 46, a divided highway. Mr. Pullman failed to stop for the marked police vehicle with lights and sirens activated. After the attempted stop, a pursuit ensued through multiple municipalities. Marked vehicles from the Fairfield and Wayne Police Departments ultimately joined the pursuit. Recordings from the mobile video recorders (MVRs) in several police vehicles depict Mr. Pullman’s vehicle traveling in a dangerous manner at high rates of speed and being involved in multiple motor vehicle infractions, while failing to stop for the marked police vehicles.
The pursuit ended in Wayne at approximately 4:47 p.m. at the interchange of U.S. Route 46, Route 23, and Interstate 80. Footage from the MVR in the Fairfield police vehicle directly behind Mr. Pullman’s vehicle shows that when the pursuit ended, the driver’s side door of the Lexus immediately opened and Mr. Pullman began to exit with a handgun visible in his hand, leveled and pointed out from the car. The gun was pointed in the direction of an occupied Mountain Lakes police vehicle.
A Wayne police vehicle was immediately behind that Mountain Lakes police vehicle, and a second Mountain Lakes police vehicle was positioned in front of Mr. Pullman’s vehicle. There were three Fairfield police vehicles in the area behind Mr. Pullman’s vehicle. While Mr. Pullman was pointing the firearm, four police officers began firing their service weapons, fatally wounding him. The officers who fired were previously identified as Sgt. Frank Tracey, Officer James Ciampi, and Officer Kevin Chen of the Fairfield Police Department, and Lt. Robert Franco of the Wayne Police Department.
Police officers removed Mr. Pullman from his vehicle and attempted to provide aid, but did not detect a pulse. EMS arrived at the scene at approximately 5:01 p.m. and pronounced Mr. Pullman deceased. A loaded Cobra .380-caliber pistol was recovered from Mr. Pullman’s car near the driver’s seat.
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.
After considering the facts, evidence, and testimony from the OPIA investigation, the state grand jury found the actions of the officers were justified. An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
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: http://www.nj.gov/oag/independent-prosecutor/