ELIZABETH, NJ - Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced on Tuesday that Oscar Diaz, 40, of Elizabeth, was charged Monday night, April 6, with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, third-degree aggravated assault on an officer, third-degree resisting arrest, fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer, obstruction (disorderly persons offense) and simple assault/domestic violence.
Police responded to a domestic violence call reporting a stabbing. Diaz, who had blood on his face and shirt, allegedly kicked, punched and pushed officers in an attempt to keep them from entering the residence, causing officers to use pepper spray. As Diaz was being physically escorted by officers to a patrol car, he allegedly yelled “COVID! COVID!,” coughed on the officers, and attempted to spit on them.
“Our police officers are working bravely and tirelessly every day to protect us during this health crisis. Regrettably, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the emergency orders— or what is more egregious, people using the virus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Staying home and maintaining social distance isn’t just the best advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to keep our residents and officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file charges against violators.”
“Law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of this battle to protect the citizens of New Jersey from the COVID-19 virus, and we cannot stress enough how important it is that each person follow the guidelines set forth in the Executive Order,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.”
Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second, third, and fourth degree indictable offenses.
Last week, Attorney General Grewal announced enhanced charges against six individuals who were charged with assaulting law enforcement officers and violating the emergency orders. Specifically, those enhanced charges included making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which is a second degree offense and carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The defendant Diaz is similarly charged for his conduct against law enforcement officers.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.