SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - An Appellate Court has ruled that a Middlesex County Superior Judge must reconsider his decision to grant immunity to a police officer who shot and killed a mentally ill South Brunswick man in 2013. The appeal claims that the court precluded facts from plaintiff's oral testimony before summary judgment and the court rejected their claim of negligent supervision and training.
On November 13th, 2013, a situation escalated between Anthony Murnieks, who had schizophrenia, and his mother after she discovered he had stopped taking his medication. Both South Brunswick police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office arrived at the scene.
Officer Bryan Doel, from Old Bridge and with the Middlesex County Special Operations Emergency Response Team, entered the home and was in an altercation with Murniecks. According to court documents, Andrew reached for the officer’s gun which led to Officer Doel shooting Andrew in the chest.
Andrew’s mother, Renee, later filed a wrongful death action against the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office. A judge later granted a motion from the police officer and the prosecutor’s office to dismiss the claims and grant immunity, claiming that the actions taken in the situation were performed in “good faith,” according to court documents.
According to the appeal, the court did not cite any of the issues with Officer Doyle’s conduct raised by the plaintiff before rendering their decision. Court testimony raised questions about excessive force, whether appropriate negotiations had taken place and whether Murnieks had actually threatened the police officer.
The appeal also claims that the court dismissed the plaintiff's negligent supervision claim without any factual findings or conclusion of law. The court did not adequately look into this claim raised by the plaintiff, and dismissed it without citing any reason, according to the appeal.
“Under the circumstances presented, we have no alternative but to reverse the motion court's order and remand this matter for further proceedings,” the appeal reads, “The court's decision should include detailed findings of fact, correlated to comprehensive conclusions of law, addressing all issues raised by the parties.”