On Friday, it was reported that an off-duty Newark police officer had shot a man after being involved in a late night bar brawl. As of yet, the officer has not been identified publicly, except as being an 11 year “veteran of the force,” and few details about the actual fight, which took place at a bar named “Paddy’s Place” in Union City, were released.
An off-duty Newark police officer fatally shot a 37-year-old man inside a bar in Union, New Jersey, early Friday.
The victim, Michael Gaffney, of Piscataway, was discovered inside Paddy’s Place on Rosemont Avenue North just after 1 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“He was a great man,” said Marc Pasuca, who attended high school with Gaffney. “Just his heart, and he loved his family so much. You could see in his posts, he was so ecstatic over his daughter getting honor role…he had a heart of gold.”The preliminary investigation determined that an altercation between Gaffney and the off-duty officer led to the officer using his service weapon, but multiple agencies were working to determine exactly what led to the shooting.
“No one should bring a gun into a bar, and now this poor teenage daughter is without a father,” Pasuca said. “I can’t imagine my daughter waking up without a dad.”The officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
“Now we grieve, and we try to move on,” Pasuca said. “I don’t know, you try to change laws or something. I don’t know. What are you going to do? Put a metal detector at every bar so a guy doesn’t come in with gun? I don’t even know.”
The investigation into this matter, which remains ongoing, is being conducted in strict accordance with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General guidelines governing all investigations into incidents involving use of deadly force by law enforcement.
It is unclear if any charges will be filed.
There’s also some conflicting information regarding whether the shooting took place inside the bar or outside. A different report from NJ1015.com states that the fight and subsequent shooting took place outside the bar.
Spoiler: I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for charges to be filed. The cop involved would have to have been caught on video and clearly in the wrong for that to happen. Even then it’s still a bit of a crap shoot whether they would be charged and later receive the traditional slap on the wrist that accompanies such charges.
Also, in spite of the somewhat common reaction by people to call for more laws, it’s already illegal to shoot someone unless it is in self defense. Since the details of the original incident and fight haven’t been released we don’t know if that was the case (and I certainly support the right to self defense). However, if the officer involved wasn’t acting in self defense, we obviously don’t need another law stating that it’s illegal to murder someone.
The fact that he had a gun in a bar while drinking in the first place, is something that raises plenty of questions. Once again though, this is something else that’s already covered by current laws. In fact, in many states it is a felony to use a gun while drinking.
The problem isn’t the lack of applicable laws. It’s the fact that those laws are rarely applied to certain people with shiny little badges.