Two cops facing disciplinary charges, bail reform in New Jersey, the death of a 14-year-old Kearny High School freshman boy, Lyndhurst’s 100th anniversary and a domestic-violence case turned murder top the five most read stories on www.theobserver.com in 2017.
1. ‘Cops facing discipline: chief,’ by Ron Leir
Ron Leir’s July story about two Kearny police officers on disciplinary, unpaid leave tops our list of most-read stories on The Observer’s website in 2017. According to Leir’s report, then Chief John Dowie filed charges against the two not-as-yet-named veteran officers who, if found guilty, could be thrown off the force — among other possibilities.
While the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges against the two cops — and instead returned the case back to Dowie to handle on his own, the town did hire Robert A. Verry, a hearing officer, who is supposed to adjudicate the case and make a recommendation as to the guilt or innocence of the officers.
Dowie listed the charges against the two cops as conduct unbecoming, neglect of duty, failure to perform duty, misuse of public property, standard of conduct violation and general police responsibilities violation.
Each of the cops has more than 20 years of service with the KPD, Dowie said.
- ‘KPD Blotter: N.J. bail reform at work,’ by Karen Zautyk
Throughout 2017, Observer Correspondent Karen Zautyk has followed the plight law enforcement has experienced following the state’s bail-reform laws kicking in. In numerous instances, Zautyk detailed criminal defendants who committed a specific crime, only to be released on low to no bail, only to reoffend on similar charges.
In the no. 2 story of the year, Zautyk reports, on Jan. 25:
At 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, Officer Luis Moran responded to Bergen Ave. and Elm St. to interview a 55-year-old Irvington woman whose pain medication had apparently been stolen. Police said the victim pointed out as the likely suspect a male acquaintance, also from Irvington, who was standing with another man near a parked 2013 Acura.
As Moran approached the pair, the suspect — despite the officer’s orders to stop — entered the passenger side of the car. Police said the driver, later identified as Wesley Carrion, 19, of Maplewood, put the vehicle in gear and headed off — with Moran hanging onto the still-open passenger door. The officer was reportedly dragged for about 30 feet before managing to free himself.
Moran, who was not injured, returned to his patrol car, issued a BOLO and followed the Acura, which he found parked on the 100 block of Kearny Ave., with Carrion still at the wheel, police said. (The passenger had apparently fled on foot.)
With Officer Jose Resua and Sgts. Charles Smith and Joseph Vulcano as backup, Carrion was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, eluding, reckless driving and disregarding a police officer’s signal.
He was then released. Without bail. “Thanks to bail reform,” a source told The Observer.
- ‘14-year-old Kearny boy reported missing still has not been found,’ by Kevin Canessa
When we first learned of missing 14-year-old Angel Gonzalez, his story caught statewide attention. Gonzalez was sadly found dead not long after he was reported missing. But it would ultimately take more than a week before authorities in Kearny were notified Gonzalez had been found.
From the original story, no. 3 on theobserver.com’s list of most-read stories in 2017:
“A 14-year-old boy whose family reported him missing a week ago has still not yet been found, according to a Kearny Police Department Facebook post Monday, Oct. 16.
“Angel Gonzalez may be in Newark or New York City, according to the KPD post.
“Gonzalez, a Latino, is 5’6” tall, around 140 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and a light-brown skin complex (see photo.) When he was last seen, he was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, grey sweatpants and black Nike sneakers, according to the KPD.”
- ‘Lyndhurst prepares for 100th anniversary,’ by Kevin Canessa
The fourth most read story on www.theobserver.com in 2017 detailed Lyndhurst’s preparations to celebrate its 100th birthday. The township sponsored a tremendous all-out party on Sept. 30, which included a grand parade, a festival, rides, music, games, classic cars and so much more. Thousands of residents and visitors alike flocked to Town Hall Park to take part in the festivities.
- ‘Homicide victim identified as Luisa Cristina Reyes Tello,’ by Kevin Canessa
The only homicide in Kearny took place April 10 on Chestnut St. when Luisa Cristina Reyes Tello was reportedly killed by her estranged former partner. It turns out her former partner was in the United States illegally. From the original report:
“On April 10, at approximately 6:45 p.m., Kearny police officers were dispatched to 133 Chestnut St., on a 911 call of a medical injury. Upon arrival, officers observed a lifeless female victim with apparent stab wounds in a second-floor apartment at that location.
“The victim, Luisa Cristina Reyna-Tello, 46, who lived in the apartment, was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 7:10 p.m.
“The cause and manner of death are pending an investigation by the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.
“Jose Castro-Lavado, 36, who also lived in the Kearny apartment, was arrested by Kearny police officers in connection with the death of Reyna-Tello. Sources say Castro-Lavado was in the U.S. illegally.
“A New York City-based TV journalist told The Observer she interviewed a boy who lived near the scene. The boy said he’d heard loud noises coming from next door.
“I heard screaming,” the boy said. “She was saying, ‘My mom, my mom, why my mom!’ That’s what really stuck with me.”
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