ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CBSNewYork) — A jury in Maryland issued a not-guilty verdict Wednesday for a New Jersey police detective charged with murder in a road rage incident.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the jury in Annapolis ruled that Detective Joseph Walker of the Hudson County prosecutor’s office was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed a man charging at him.
Walker said nothing after the jury acquitted him of all charges Wednesday. Walker’s attorney said his client felt elated.
“We are extremely pleased that the jury was able to see this for what it was — a father forced to defend his family, including his wife and his children, who were under attack on the side of the road,” said attorney Charles Curlette.
During the trial, Walker took the stand in his own defense. He said Joseph Harvey Jr. — the man he shot and killed — had forced his van, with his wife and children inside, to the shoulder of a Maryland highway in the June 2013 incident.
Walker, who was off duty, said Harvey came at him screaming racial slurs. He said even after he flashed his police badge, Harvey would not stop.
Harvey’s family did not comment on the verdict Wednesday. But Maryland prosecutors said they were not happy with the jury’s decision.
“At the end of the day, I am concerned that Mr. Walker, as a law enforcement officer, is a very aggressive person,” said Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt-Leitess. “And in this case, he had many, many options. He could have gotten into his car. He could have called 911. But he chose to engage in a road rage incident with Joe Harvey.”
But Curlette attorney called Colt-Leitess’ description a mischaracterization.
“The prosecutor’s theory of the case that this was an act of murder — that this was motivated by aggression and anger — was simply wrong,” Curlette said.
Walker was suspended without pay when he was charged with first-degree murder. Colleagues, who described Walker as a gentle man, said they could not wait for him to come back to work.
Representatives of Walker’s union said they were confident that he will be reinstated in his position.
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