CLARK, NJ – A Union County Grand Jury found the use of deadly force by a Clark Police officer against a man wielding a machete-type knife in a Sept. 20, 2016 incident to be legally justified, citing the legal principles of defense of self and others.
The officer, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting, had issued six verbal warnings to Emmanuel Goda, 36, to drop the knife he was holding, authorities said. The officer fired one shot into Goda’s abdomen from a distance of five to ten feet, subduing Goda, who then dropped the knife, they said.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office described the events leading up to the shooting.
In the early evening of Sept. 20, Goda first brandished his knife at a woman who was walking her dog along Cellar Avenue, the statement said. Nearby residents who heard the woman’s screams ran to the woman’s aid. Goda then turned away from the woman and chased the other residents, wielding his knife and making threatening statements. According to the statement, no one was injured and Goda left the area on foot, heading south on Lake Avenue.
Multiple calls about the incident were made by concerned citizens to the Clark Police Department beginning at 7:13 p.m., the statement said. The off-duty officer, driving an unmarked police car, was near Cellar Avenue at the time and responded to the calls, the report said. An eyewitness described Goda to the officer. The officer then saw a man who fit the descriptions provided by both the callers and the witness crossing Lake Avenue at the Cellar Avenue intersection, the report said.
According to the report, the officer pursued the suspect on foot. A uniformed, on-duty Clark Police officer arrived shortly thereafter, the report said. The uniformed officer pulled his car close to Goda, who approached the driver’s side of the patrol car, the report said.
Goda then lunged at the uniformed officer, reaching his arm into the car and slashing “toward the officer’s face with the knife,” the report said. The uniformed officer reversed his car to get away from Goda and avoid injury. The off-duty officer watched this occur, the report said.
Goda, still holding the knife, then turned toward the off-duty officer, the report said. It was then the officer repeatedly commanded Goda to drop the knife. The uniformed officer, who had by then gotten out of his car, also ordered Goda to drop the knife, the report said. Goda ignored both officers’ commands and continued to walk toward the off-duty officer, the report said.
It was then that the off-duty officer fired his weapon, the report said. Goda’s injuries were not fatal and he was removed to the hospital, according to the report.
The report said that most of the interchange between the officers and Goda was captured on videotape and that the officer’s commands to drop the weapon could be clearly heard before the shot was fired.
The Grand Jury conducted a lengthy review of evidence, including statements from the officers, statements from Cellar Avenue residents and the video evidence, the report said. The jury, finding the evidence credible and the officer’s use of force justified, returned a no-bill of indictment, the report said.
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