Officers who killed couple who killed Det. Joseph Seals and Harrison man justified in their shooting, grand jury decides

Det. Joseph Seals, of the Jersey City PD, was a North Arlington resident Teddy Jao Lopez photo

A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations over the deaths of two murderers — David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — who were fatally shot by police after the couple shot and killed Jersey City Police Department Det. Joseph Seals, of North Arlington, and then killed Mindy Ferencz, Douglas Miguel “Miguel” Rodriguez Barzola (of Harrison) and Moshe Deutsch inside a supermarket in Jersey City and engaged in a three-hour firefight with police on Dec. 10, 2019.

The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to 16 to 23 New Jersey residents called upon to serve on a grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” issued in 2019.

In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner — and with appropriate transparency regarding the process — consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive.

The investigation of this fatal police encounter included interviews of witnesses, a collection of forensic evidence, review of video footage and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations Monday, Nov. 15, and voted “no bill,” meaning a majority of grand jurors found the actions of the officers who shot Anderson and Graham were justified and no charges should be filed against them.

According to the investigation, on Dec. 10, 2019, Anderson and Graham encountered and killed Seals in Bay View Cemetery in Jersey City. Shortly thereafter, at approximately 12:21 p.m., Anderson parked a white U-Haul van directly across the street from the JC Kosher Supermarket at 223 Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City.

Graham was a passenger in the van.

Within seconds of parking the van, Anderson exited the driver’s side door with a rifle in his hand. He walked toward supermarket and began shooting. Graham exited the vehicle and entered the store as well.

Anderson and Graham shot and killed three people in the store: Ferencz, who was 31; Rodriguez Barzola, a Harrison resident who was 49; and Moshe Deutsch, who was 24.

A survivor escaped the store shortly after the gunfire began. Anderson and Graham remained in the store for the entirety of the incident.

Officers near the scene responded within minutes of the start of the shooting and took incoming gunfire from Anderson and Graham. Two officers suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds. Several police officers exchanged gunfire with the assailants in the store.

At approximately 12:43 p.m., Jersey City officers arrived with a police armored vehicle in the vicinity of the JC Kosher Supermarket, and officers fired at Anderson and Graham after they again fired at police. A protracted engagement followed.

Twelve Jersey City officers, and a Newark detective, reportedly discharged their firearms that day.

•••

At approximately 3:25 p.m., the police armored vehicle broke through the entryway of the supermarket. At approximately 3:47 p.m., the law enforcement incident ended.

A 2019 law requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.

After considering the facts, evidence, and testimony from the OPIA investigation, the state grand jury found the actions of the officers were justified. An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.

A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.

Learn more about the writer ...

Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.