‘Routine’ traffic stop was anything but

KEARNY – On Saturday, April 15, KPD Officers Michael Gontarczuk and Sean Podolski were on patrol in South Kearny at 1:15 a.m. when they observed a 1999 Acura speeding north at Rts. 1/9 and Central Ave. The officers followed and pulled the car over on the Jersey City side of the Hackensack River Bridge.

There were three occupants — two in the front and one in the rear, seated behind the driver.

As Podolski was calling in the stop on the patrol car radio, Gontarczuk approached the Acura — not from the driver’s side, as might be expected, but from the passenger side. And quietly. As noted on the KPD’s Facebook page, Choosing this quiet, passenger-side approach may be the luckiest decision the young patrolman has made in his short career.”

The occupants obviously assumed that any cop would appear on the driver’side, since all three reportedly were looking over their left shoulders. Before they realized where the officer actually was, Gontarczuk was illuminating the car’s interior with his flashlight, and what he saw, police said, was the back-seat passenger with his hand on a gun.

Gontarczuk drew his own weapon and told the man — later identified as David Webb, 27, of Jersey City — to put his hands on his head. All three occupants were then removed from the car, ordered to the ground and held at gunpoint by both officers. Headquarters was advised of the situation, back-up units from Kearny and Jersey City responded to the scene and the trio were taken into custody.

Gontarczuk took possession of the weapon, which police said turned out to be a loaded, five-shot, 32-caliber Smith & Wesson silver revolver. A search of the car reportedly produced 10 plastic bags of marijuana, two containers of mixed alcoholic beverages, an open bottle of brandy — and a box of ammo containing 21 additional bullets for the gun.  

Webb, driver Charles Cuthbert-Johnson, 34, and front-seat passenger Deshawn George, 27 all of Jersey City were each charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during a drug crime, unlawful possession of handgun ammunition, conspiracy, possession of pot and drug paraphernalia, possession with intent to distribute and having an open container of alcohol in a MV.

Cuthbert-Johnson was also charged with careless driving, a taillight violation and possession of a CDS in  a MV.

All three were remanded to the Hudson County Jail.  But …

Thanks to bail reform, Cuthbert-Johnson was released the same day. Webb (the one allegedly with the gun) and George were less fortunate; they had to wait all the way to Monday to get sprung.

To again quote the KPD Facebook post:  “Is speeding through Kearny with broken taillights, an open bottle of booze, drugs packaged for sale, and one’s hand on a loaded revolver during a traffic stop proof that men are a danger to the community? That’s not for us to judge, but consider our minds boggled.”

[Editor’s note: As reported in prior stories, a recent directive by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office has made the publication of mugshots problematic. Additionally, the HCPO now outright prohibits providing the media with photographs of any evidence seized. Therefore, the photo accompanying this story depicts not the actual gun recovered by the police but rather an example — as best we can determine from the description — of what it might look like. What was that about boggled minds?]



Learn more about the writer ...

+ posts