PATERSON, NJ – Authorities on Tuesday identified Javier Gutierrez, an eight-year veteran of the force, as the city police officer who fired the shot that fatally wounded a 38-year-old man on New Year’s morning near the BP gas station on Broadway.
John Latoracca, chief assistant prosecutor with the Passaic County Prosecutor’s office, also provided new details on the shooting. Latoracca said Gutierrez, who is 34, and Police Officer John Kelly, 42, were on patrol at about 4:30 am on January 1 when they drove past a crowd gathered around a scuffle near the corner of Broadway and Summer Street that d.
From the patrol car, Gutierrez noticed that a man near the fight had a gun, Latoracca said. The officers pulled over and Kelly went toward the fighters, while Gutierrez went towards the man with the gun, Latoracca said.
Gutierrez called for the man, identified as Jacoby Hyatt, to drop the weapon, and when he did not comply, the officer fired one shot that fatally wounded Hyatt in the abdomen, authorities said.
Latoracca declined to discuss “specifics of the interaction” between Gutierrez and Hyatt, such as how far apart they were, saying that was part of the focus of the investigation.
Hyatt’s loaded handgun was recovered at the scene, said Latoracca. It had not been fired, the prosecutor said. Hyatt did not have a permit to carry the gun, he said.
Gutierrez is on administrative leave, while Kelly, who is also an eight-year veteran of the force, is back on duty, according to Paterson Deputy Police Chief Danny Nichols
“There’s been no indication that the officer acted inappropriately,’’ said Latoracca.
Investigators are still trying to find people who witnessed the shooting, especially those who were in the crowd of about 15 at the scuffle, Latoracca said. “One of the complications here, is that although there were a number of people present, they scatter and they don’t come forward,’’ Latoracca said.
Authorities also have been reviewing footage from security cameras in the area, but so far have not found any video that showed the shooting, Latoracca said.
Eventually, the findings of the investigation will be presented to a grand jury, which is standard policy for any fatal shootings involving police officers in Passaic County, Latoracca said.
About 45 days before the New Year’s shooting, Gutierrez and Kelly teamed up to arrest a man with a gun in the same neighborhood without incident.
In that case, they were on patrol while a gunman attempted to rob Sweet Potato Pies on Auburn Street, according to police reports issued at the time.
The officers then spotted a man who matched the description of the robber, questioned him and found a handgun in his possession, according to police.