EDITORIAL : How a Passaic County Sheriff’s officer even found himself in a courtroom, having to defend his actions in shooting a fleeing suspect in the arm, is amazing. What isn’t a surprise is that a sensible judge acquitted Detective Ralph Garcia of aggravated assault.
A conviction would have sent Garcia to prison and ended his career as a public servant. But state Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin wisely heard the case himself, without a jury.
“This is not a case about a rogue cop. It’s a case about a cop who was doing his job,” Reddin said.
Although Garcia’s actions might have put him in graver danger, the judge said, it was the response “of a good cop, a brave cop, to go into harm’s way.”
Garcia will soon be off his part-time desk job and back on the street as soon as he qualifies for weapons training, a spokesman said.
How this affects relations between Valdez’s office and that of Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale — who came today in a loyal show of support for his officer — will be interesting.
Valdez came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, one of Jon Corzine’s last appointments before he hit the road. Some people questioned her ability, given that she’d never handled so large and serious a responsibility before. But the Democrats had enough votes in Trenton to push the appointment through — even though she got held up on confirmation day after CLIFFVIEW PILOT ran a story that morning about the political wrangling going on behind closed doors.
She has yet to tackle a publicly controversial case, but she clearly has taken on one that could have ramifications behind the scenes of the two agencies.
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