KPD: Police use conducted-energy device (yes it was a Taser, but Axon doesn’t like us using that name) to subdue belligerent suspect

Shortly before midnight July 2, Officer Ryan Wilson was patrolling South Kearny when he observed a vehicle, parked on the shoulder of the Newark-Jersey City Turnpike viaduct. The viaduct is an elevated overpass, with narrow shoulders and a steep drop onto train tracks below, rendering it a hazardous place to pull over or stop a vehicle.

To make matters worse, the vehicle had no lights on, making it hard for motorists to see. As Officer Wilson checked on the vehicle, he noted it displayed no license plates. The driver and owner of the vehicle, Obinna K. Okafor, 33, of Maplewood, admitted it was not registered or insured. A tow truck was summoned, since the vehicle could not legally be driven. Okafor also did not provide Officer Wilson with a driver’s license.

When the tow truck arrived, Okafor refused to get out of the vehicle. Sgt. Tim Castle and Officer Michael Ore arrived and after lengthy roadside negotiations, officers were able to talk Okafor into exiting.

Shortly after, though, Okafor stood between the tow truck and his vehicle, and began arguing with the tow truck operator and the officers. Officers continued to attempt to calm him and move him out of the way of the tow truck operations.

Unfortunately, as the tow truck operator was standing in a lane of traffic, operating the hydraulic bed, Okafor jumped onto the tow truck and began manipulating the rear of his vehicle while it was being winched by a metal cable. Officers pleaded with Okafor to come down.

After attempts to reason with him failed, they took hold and pulled him down. Okafor responded by striking Officer Wilson, and a struggle ensued. Officers attempted to handcuff the assailant; however, they were confined to the limited space between the active lane of traffic, and the small barrier that prevents one from falling off of the highway overpass, down onto the railroad property.

Okafor was given repeated chances to comply as officers attempted to subdue him, but he continued to fight until Sgt. Castle utilized his taser. One probe deployment later, the situation was diffused and Okafor was handcuffed.

After being checked out by an ambulance, he was taken to police headquarters, where he was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, obstructing the administration of law, disorderly conduct, interference with transportation, failure to possess a driver’s license, failure to possess registration, driving without liability insurance coverage on vehicle and operating an unregistered vehicle.

He was later released with a summons to Superior Court. The tow truck driver was able to safely impound the vehicle without any further obstructions.

On the evening of June 29, Officer Anthony Oliveira was patrolling his district when he observed Stuart A. Bradley, 44, of Kearny, with whom the officer is well-acquainted, walking toward a double-parked vehicle. The officer was aware Bradley was a wanted person via the National Crime Information Center, as he had failed to appear for a criminal case in Pike County, Pennsylvania.

When advised of this, Bradley began walking away and disregarded Officer Oliveira’s orders to stop. Bradley attempted to rid himself of a satchel bag during this interaction, while still ignoring orders. Officers Collins, Perez, San Martin and Castillo arrived as back-up as a struggle ensued and Bradley became aggressive.

Bradley began shouting expletives and assuming a fighting stance while challenging officers. As officers backed away and attempted to calm the situation, Bradley began reaching into his pockets, feigning as though he is procuring a weapon and began shouting to officers to shoot him. Luckily, the distance created by officers provided them with time to deescalate the matter and the item in Bradley’s pocket was found to be an electronic nicotine vape.

Officers were able to arrest Bradley without employing force. The satchel bag he attempted to discard was searched incident to arrest, which yielded multiple drug paraphernalia items used to package and ingest narcotics.

He was transported to police headquarters and charged with obstructing the administration of law, disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, since Bradley charged as a fugitive from justice, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they would extradite him to their jurisdiction.

Bradley was transported to the Hudson County Correctional Jail, South Kearny, where he awaits extradition to Pennsylvania.

On June 21, Officer Kevin Matos fielded two reports of shoplifting at Marshalls store. There, a loss-prevention officer reported an unidentified repeat offender, who, on June 6, reportedly stole sneakers and assaulted staff while fleeing, had shoplifted again.

Det. John Fabula obtained security camera footage of the both incidents and initiated further investigation. After collaborating with other law enforcement agencies, Det. Fabula identified the suspect as Angel D. Figueroa, 36 of Newark.

Det. Jordenson Jean conducted a photo array with the loss-prevention officer who allegedly was assaulted, and she identified Figueroa as the culprit. Subsequently, Det. Fabula charged Figueroa with shoplifting for one of the incidents, and robbery for the other incident. A warrant was issued for the latter, and the court case is pending the apprehension of Figueroa.

In April, a woman reported to police that her ex-boyfriend had been harassing her, and she woke up to find her tires deflated. She also found a GPS tracking device on her vehicle. The victim provided security camera footage of the suspect slashing her tires and obtained a temporary restraining order.

Detective Anthony Nunez then followed up on the matter, utilizing subpoenas to obtain records pertaining to the tracking device, the IP addresses and personal devices connected to it and other associated information, such as the suspect’s purchase records of the device.

On June 30, Edgardo Montalvo, 46, of Kearny, was arrested by Det. Nunez, and was charged with stalking, criminal mischief and harassment. He was released on a summons with a court date pending.

At about 3 a.m., July 1, Sgt. Timothy Castle and Officers Peter Jahera and Travis Witt were dispatched to a motor-vehicle accident near the intersection of Quincy Avenue and Elm Street. One of the involved drivers smelled of alcohol, reportedly, was swaying while standing and was unaware of her location or the reality she had just been in an accident.

Officer Jahera administered standardized field-sobriety tests, which furthered officers’ suspicions of impairment. Evangeline Shante Joynes, 34 of Kearny, was arrested and transported to police headquarters, while both vehicles had to be towed, due to the extent of their respective damages.

Once at police headquarters, officers attempted to administer a chemical breath test, however, Joynes was not cooperative. She was charged with reckless driving, driving while impaired and refusal to submit to a chemical breath test, after which she was released to a responsible party.

On May 27, 2023, Officer Paul Duran responded to Walmart after loss prevention reported two individuals filled up a shopping cart with items and left the store without paying. The individuals fled the scene before police could apprehend them.

Det. Jean followed up on the matter, obtaining camera footage of the actors, their distinctive tattoos, clothing and other identifiers. After Det. Jean distributed a bulletin to surrounding towns, a captain from the Union Township PD identified the two shoplifters. Det. Jean also found Kearny PD arrest records from previous shoplifting incidents involving the same actors, and noted the tattoos matched the video he obtained.

Det. Jean then charged Fatina F. Brown, 37, and Oscar Cabrera, 43, both of Newark, with shoplifting and conspiracy. A Hudson County Superior Court hearing is scheduled.

Description: On the evening of July 1, Officer Jahera noticed a vehicle blocking a fire hydrant on Maple Street. A summons was issued and the vehicle was impounded, since the vehicle was registered in another jurisdiction and the owner could not be raised. Officer Jahera noted that the vehicle’s owner was listed in NCIC as a wanted person, via the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and noted this on the associated paperwork.

Two days later, on July 3, the vehicle owner, Edrian R. Castillo Peralta, 19, of Jersey City, visited Kearny Police Headquarters, in order to obtain a release for his impounded vehicle. Officers confirmed he was still a wanted person for receiving stolen property in Mercer County, and arrested him.

Castillo Peralta was held until the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office could pick him up.

At about 4 in the morning, on the Fourth of July, Officer Anthony Oliveira was dispatched to the busy intersection of Bergen and Harrison avenues, after a caller reported a vehicle not moving, despite multiple traffic light cycles.

Upon arrival, Officer Oliveira found a man asleep at the wheel of a running vehicle, with his foot on the brake and the transmission in drive. He yelled to the man, but was not able to rouse him. Sgt. Gasser arrived as back-up.

The transmission was shifted into park and sleeping man was roused awake with a sternum rub. Officers noted his movements were slow and fumbling, he could not find his driver’s license, his eyes were bloodshot and watery and he reeked of alcohol.

As officers had him exit the vehicle, he was staggering and leaning into his vehicle for balance.

Officer Oliveira conducted standardized field sobriety tests, which indicated impairment. Subsequently, Marcos S. Hidalgo Pappa, 23, of Kearny, was arrested and transported to police headquarters. His vehicle was impounded. Officer Jose Castillo administered a chemical breath test, which indicated a blood alcohol content of at least twice the legal limit. Hidalgo Pappa was released to a responsible party after being charged with driving while impaired, reckless driving and obstructing the passage of other vehicles.

Sgt. Jack Grimm and Officers Andre Fernandes and Pedro Pina were dispatched to Walmart July 4, where a man was reportedly following women around the store in a suspicious manner. Officers were assisted by Walmart’s loss-prevention staff, who have access to the store’s cameras.

The suspicious man was found to be “upskirting” the women by utilizing his cell phone to photograph their undergarments or genitalia, without their consent. The suspect was located in the store and was arrested. His cell phone was seized, pending a search warrant for evidence.

Det. Nunez obtained two statements at police headquarters, corroborating the victims’ narratives.

Antonio L. Tunnell, 33, of Pleasantville, was charged with invasion of privacy, and was released from custody with a Hudson County Central Judicial Processing court date pending.

Sgt. Grimm and Officers Fernandes and Pina responded to Marshalls store after loss prevention had detained a shoplifter, who they wished to prosecute. Ultimately, Michael A. Salsano, 34, of Irvington, was arrested and transported to police headquarters.

A search incident to his arrest found needles and pipes used to ingest crack-cocaine. Salsano was charged with shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, Salsano was found to be a wanted person in NCIC, issued by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office and the Clifton Municipal Court had issued a $1,500 warrant for his arrest. Salsano was transported to the Hudson County Jail.

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Det. Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk | Kearny Police Department