HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A truck driver accused in the death of a New Jersey police officer faced a judge for the first time Monday as the victim’s family makes final arrangements to say goodbye.
Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell, 32, was using a radar gun on the shoulder of the southbound side of Route 17 near Bergen Avenue last Thursday when a tractor-trailer hit his unmarked police car, authorities said.
Goodell — a five-year veteran of the department and a Marine Corps veteran — was pronounced dead at the scene.
A wake for Goodell was held Monday in Waldwick.
A pipe band led a procession past the public safety building at Borough Hall, as the hearse carrying Goodell’s body followed behind. The hearse was flanked by a number of Waldwick officers, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
Hundreds also gathered on the street to pay tribute to Goodell, standing silently as they held small American flags.
“All he was doing was his job, just like you’re doing. He was doing his job and then he gets run down,” mourner John Ciaravino told CBS 2’s Don Champion.
“I wanted to come out here to show my support to the family and to Chris because you know, he’s been a dedicated police officer in town,” one man told WCBS Monday.
“The way he was killed is just horrific and my heart aches for his family, it really does,” another woman at the procession told Haskell.
Gov. Chris Christie ordered flags at state office buildings to be flown at half-staff Tuesday, the same day funeral services are to be held for Goodell.
Officer Goodell’s funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Luke’s Church.
Champion reported that instead of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to a scholarship fund set up in his name.
The truck driver that hit Goodell, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch, of Brooklyn, was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide.
He pleaded not guilty during an initial court appearance in Hackensack on Monday. Cumberbatch only spoke during the brief hearing to say he understood the charge. His attorney said they wouldn’t comment out of respect for Goodell’s family.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the crash happened entirely on the shoulder of the road, and there is no evidence that Cumberbatch tried to brake before impact.
Cumberbatch’s lawyer, David Glassman, maintains it was an accident, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Although his car was running, Goodell’s emergency lights were not activated and Cumberbatch remained on the scene waiting for help, Jiang reported.
Glassman is also representing the truck driver who allegedly slammed into a limo-bus on the New Jersey Turnpike last month, leaving one person dead and several others injured, including comedian Tracy Morgan.
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