TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 7, 2022, Shaun Giberson, 40, of Point Pleasant Beach, pled guilty before the Honorable Michael T. Collins, J.S.C., to Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a, relative to threats made in Point Pleasant Borough on March 17, 2021. Giberson also pled guilty to Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1b(1), in connection with an unrelated incident that occurred in Manchester Township on August 18, 2020. At the time of his sentencing on February 25, 2022, the State will be seeking a term of five years New Jersey State Prison as to each offense. The sentences are to run concurrently.
On March 18, 2021, the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department received a report that an anonymous caller had left threatening voicemail messages at both Point Pleasant Borough High School and the Nellie Bennett Elementary School. A subsequent investigation conducted by the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department revealed that Giberson was the individual responsible for leaving the threatening messages. On March 18, 2021, Giberson was apprehended by Officers from the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department; he has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since that date.
On August 18, 2020, Officers of the Manchester Township Police Department were summoned to a local group home in reference to a backpack having been set on fire at the home. The Officers subsequently determined that Giberson – a resident of the group home at the time – intentionally lit the backpack on fire. He was taken into custody, processed, and released on a summons.
Prosecutor Billhimer commends Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department and Manchester Township Police Department, for their diligent efforts in connection with these separate investigations, leading to Giberson’s apprehension, guilty pleas, and soon his state prison sentence.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has completed its investigation into the September 29, 2019 use of force by a detective of the Trenton Police Department, and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified. The MCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the Grand Jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the then applicable Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directives (July 28, 2015 Attorney General Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations and the Independent Prosecutor Directive 2019-4) (“Directives”). Pursuant to the Directive, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with MCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officer was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with MCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury. The incident occurred on September 29, 2019, at approximately 4:03 p.m., at 1901 Calhoun Street in Trenton (Valcar Auto Sales). Trenton Police Department Communications received an activation of six gunfire rounds through ShotSpotter, a gunfire detection and location technology providing scalable and reliable gunfire alert and analysis. It was learned that this was an officer-involved shooting involving a suspect,
later identified as Joseph Reeves, who was shot in the head, upper body, and mid body by a Trenton Police detective and emergency medical services responded to the scene and located Reeves, who was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery. At approximately 4:10 p.m., the Mercer County Homicide Task Force was activated to investigate. The investigation, including statements of three officers and one civilian witness, and physical evidence revealed the following:
The detective was scheduled to work his shift on September 29, 2019 from 3 p.m. until 3 a.m. the following day. The detective left the roll-call briefing dressed in a black Trenton Police “SWAT” sweatshirt and green cargo style pants.
While leaving Trenton Police Headquarters, the detective turned on his department-issued police radio and learned that a shooting had just occurred in the area of East Hanover and North Montgomery Streets. There was a broadcast that the suspect vehicle was possibly a silver Ford Fusion with damage to the rear/trunk area. The detective left Headquarters and drove toward a location he believed the suspect would flee from East Hanover Street. While stopped at a red light at Calhoun and Southard Streets, the detective observed a silver Kia Optima sedan traveling on Calhoun Street toward Princeton Avenue/Route 206. The detective observed that the rear driver’s side window was “blown out,” as if the result of gunfire. The detective also observed a large dent to the rear/trunk area of the vehicle. He broadcasted his observations to the other detectives via Trenton Police Communications. The detective further advised that the vehicle’s make and model were somewhat different than the original description; however, the vehicles are similar in appearance.
The detective followed the silver Kia Optima on Calhoun Street toward West Miller Street. Once the vehicle arrived in this area, the Kia made an abrupt left into the parking lot at 1901 Calhoun Street (Valcar Auto Sales). While waiting for backup, the detective observed the suspect vehicle enter the back corner of the gravel/dirt parking lot. As the Kia remained in the rear of the lot, the detective decided to make contact.
The detective drove his vehicle into the parking lot area of 1901 Calhoun Street and parked roughly seven to ten yards behind the Kia. The detective exited his vehicle, un-holstered his department-issued Glock .40 caliber handgun, identified himself as a police officer, and gave verbal commands to the Kia’s driver to stay here he was. The driver, later identified as Joseph Reeves, looked over his shoulder and made eye contact with the detective. Reeves then put the Kia in reverse and drove backwards toward the detective, who took cover behind his vehicle as Reeves crashed the Kia into the side of the detective’s vehicle. Reeves then placed the Kia in drive and pulled away, passing in front of the detective. While doing so, Reeves raised a “shiny” silver handgun and pointed it in the detective’s direction. In response to having the gun pointed at him, the detective fired his department-issued duty weapon at Reeves, striking him and the Kia several times. Reeves crashed into an unoccupied parked SUV inside the parking lot of 1901 Calhoun Street.
The detective approached the Kia on the driver’s side. He observed Reeves open the door and exit the vehicle with his hands raised. Reeves stated, “You shot me,” and immediately dropped to his knees and kept his hands in the air. The detective approached Reeves and handcuffed him. Within minutes, backup officers arrived and radioed for medical assistance and additional officers. While securing the scene, officers observed and recovered a large silver revolver on the driver’s side floorboard of the Kia.
A civilian witness confirmed that he observed a police officer exit his vehicle and order the occupant of another vehicle out of the car.
In conformance with Trenton Police Department policy, a blood draw was taken from the detective. Laboratory analysis of all of the blood samples yielded negative findings for either ethyl alcohol or any impairing drugs at the time of this incident.
As a result of the investigation, Joseph Reeves was indicted for this incident as well as the incident at East Hanover and North Montgomery streets, which occurred prior to this encounter. He was charged with first- and second- degree weapons and assault offenses. On November 12, 2021, Reeves, pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated assault and fourth-degree aggravated assault. He stated on the record that he pointed a revolver at Det. Mancheno under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. Reeves is scheduled to be sentenced on January 14, 2022.
Applying the Directives to the undisputed material facts outlined above, the use of force by the detective was legally justified. Under the Attorney General’s Use of Force Guidelines (Rev. June 2000), an officer may use deadly force when he or she reasonably believes it is “immediately necessary to protect the officer . . . from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.” Sec. I.B.1. The New Jersey Criminal Code also justifies the use of deadly force in self-defense where “the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily harm.” N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4b(2). The law defines a “reasonable belief” as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence situated as the actor was situated.
The detective believed that discharging his weapon was necessary for the protection his life. An independent analysis of the undisputed material facts led to the determination that the belief of the detective was reasonable, and the use of force in this matter was justified pursuant to all applicable laws and the Attorney General Guidelines. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the Directive.
 Because this incident involved a non-fatal injury, presentation to the grand jury was not required under Senate Bill 1036, which modified N.J. Statutes 52:17B-107, and requires the Attorney General to conduct investigations of fatal police encounters and present the them to the Grand Jury
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy today announced that the New Jersey National Guard will be deploying to long-term care facilities throughout New Jersey to assist with COVID-19 response efforts and to augment facilities’ staffing. This is an extension of Joint Task Force COVID Guardian, which has provided coordinated assistance to numerous long-term care facilities since the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Time and time again, the New Jersey National Guard has stepped up to the plate throughout this pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “This deployment will send members of our National Guard to long-term care facilities with staffing needs and will act to protect the health and safety of long-term-care residents while the Omicron variant surges throughout the nation.
“COVID-19 is still a threat to our New Jersey communities,” said Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Brig. Gen. Lisa Hou, D.O. “The Soldiers and Airmen of the New Jersey National Guard are working hard every day to protect public health.”
“We are grateful to the National Guard for their assistance in caring for the residents of those facilities most in need,” said Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Throughout this pandemic, protecting our most vulnerable residents has been paramount. As we have seen in the community, COVID-19 cases and outbreaks have been rising for several weeks in our long-term care facilities. We continue to work closely with long-term care facilities throughout the state to ensure that they have the staff they need.”
Approximately 150 Soldiers and Airmen of the New Jersey National Guard are preparing to support staffing requirements of more than a dozen long-term care facilities around the state. Guard members will assist regular staff with a variety of tasks, including administrative and logistical support. Members are undergoing training and work is anticipated to start at their assigned locations on Monday, January 10, 2022.
Tasks that National Guard members will assist with will include:
Assist residents with getting from bed to chair, walking
Assistance in dressing and daily hygiene activities
Meal set-up and feeding
Testing and screening staff, residents, and visitors’
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Deborah Blakely took the oath of office for the four-year Council seat she captured in the November 2, 2021 election at last night’s Robbinsville Township Council Reorganization Meeting.
Dave Fried was elected to another four-year term as mayor in November with a record 4,267 votes and will be sworn-in on January 27.
Ms. Blakely received the most votes of any Council candidate with 3,157 votes and was elected Council vice president by her peers. She also chaired the January 6 meeting.
Mike Cipriano was sworn-in by Municipal Clerk Michele Seigfried via telephone on January 5, but participated remotely. Mr. Cipriano was re-elected Council president.
The 2022 Robbinsville Township Council is comprised of Mr. Cipriano, Ms. Blakely, Ron Witt, Chris Ciaccio and Michael Todd, who secured the two-year unexpired term vacated by Dan Schuberth last year. Mr. Todd took his oath in December.
Police Chief Michael Polaski took his ceremonial oath after officially being sworn-in on December 29, just prior to the retirement of former chief Chris Nitti, who retired after 28 years with the department.
In addition, Business Administrator Joy Tozzi, Township attorney Bruce Darvas, Director of Community Development Paul Renaud and Director of Public Works Chris Rupp all were reappointed to their current positions, serving at the pleasure of the mayor.
Mr. Fried became the first Robbinsville mayor directly elected by the voters and was sworn-in on July 1, 2005 by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.
Mayor Fried was re-elected in 2009 by a margin of nearly 2-to-1 over former Councilwoman Sonja Walter, then elected to his third term with a convincing victory over former Councilman David Boyne in November, 2013. He defeated Walter again in 2017 with 71 percent of the vote before running unopposed in 2021. His current term expires on December 31, 2025.
Chief Polaski, 46, grew up in Lacey Township, where he began his law enforcement career as a Special Officer in 1994.
“I am humbled and honored by this opportunity,” Chief Polaski said. “I appreciate Mayor Fried, Administrator (Joy) Tozzi and the rest of the selection panel for having the faith in me to lead this great department. Like every other man and woman on the force, I come to work every day to serve and protect the residents of Robbinsville, and I look forward to doing so in my role as Chief.”
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On November 19, 2021, Hamilton Police were detailed to the first block of Peabody Lane, on an armed robbery investigation involving two male suspects. The suspects were allegedly selling a PlayStation 5 gaming system off of an advertisement on Facebook Market Place. During the sale, both of the suspects brandished handguns and fled the scene with the money and the gaming system.
Hamilton Detective Nicholas Schulte, and Hamilton Police Officer Matthew Mayhew, developed two suspects as they followed up with the sales correspondence between the buyer and seller from the Facebook advertisement. The two involved Trenton suspects were identified as Hassani Webb ( 18yrs), and Nestor Rivera (18yrs). Detective Schulte was advised by Trenton Detectives that both suspects were also involved in similar robberies in their jurisdiction.
On December 21, 2021, Hamilton Police detectives along with the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit, US Marshals, Trenton Police and the Mercer County SWAT Team, executed search warrants on the 600 block of W. State Street and the first block of Murry Street for both suspects. Both Hassani Webb and Nestor Rivera were arrested at those locations.
During the execution of the search warrants, detectives recovered (4) “Ghost “ guns in Webbs’ residence and (1) “Ghost” gun in Riveras’ residence, along with several high capacity extended magazines. The “Ghost” guns recovered were manufactured firearms with no serial numbers. Subsequently, Hassani Webb and Nestor Rivera were charged with Robbery, Weapons Offenses, Possession of Weapon Parts, and Certain Persons not to Possess Weapons.
Hamilton Police detectives are asking if anyone has additional information regarding any similar incidents possibly involving these two suspects, are asked to contact Detective Nicholas Schulte of the Criminal Investigations Section at (609) 689-5825 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008.
Every defendant is presumed innocent until being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.