On Tuesday, Aug. 7th, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey acquitted Eric Groething, a Plainfield police officer, of charges pertaining to a physical altercation with Nicholas Garret that occurred in a basement laundry room in a Jersey City apartment building captured on a security camera.
Groething immediately reported the incident to the Jersey City Police Department once the altercation ended.
Garret was initially charged with third degree aggravated assault upon a police officer, which was downgraded to simple assault. Days later, Garret filed a complaint against Groething, charging him with disorderly persons offense of simple assault, and harassment.
Both men were found guilty of committing petty disorderly persons offense of simple assault, engaging “in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent.” Groething was also found guilty of the petty disorderly persons offense of harassment by a municipal court judge. Groething and Garret were sentenced to pay mandatory minimum penalties of $125.
On appeal, a Law Division Judge acquitted Garret, and found Groething guilty of simple assault, dismissing the harassment conviction. Groething was also required to "take anger management and/or cultural sensitivity [training] . . . as a result of the assaultive behavior in this particular matter.”
The Appellate Panel overturned the Law Division’s decision, asserting double jeopardy for Groething's simple assault charge, and the conviction was vacated. The court also ruled that Groething is not guilty of fighting.