Submitted by Jeffrey Hark, attorney representing Timothy Seidel
The mother of a Millville police officer killed in a violent crash two years ago told a packed courtroom Friday the driver responsible took away a son, father, husband and “a police officer who really did want to help.”
Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein sentenced Timothy Seidel, 25, to 19 years in state prison for killing Officer Christopher Reeves. He faced a maximum of 20 years.
Reeves, 40, was killed July 8, 2012 when his cruiser was struck by Seidel’s black Scion hatchback at 3rd and Broad streets. Reeves was responding to a request for backup after officers initially tried to pull Seidel over for striking another police cruiser. Seidel was reportedly traveling at a high speed when he crashed into Reeves’ vehicle.
Millville Officer Johnathan Seidel — who isn’t related to the defendant — was a passenger with Reeves and was injured.
Family and friends of all three men packed the courtroom for what ended up being a more than two-hour sentencing hearing.
Timothy Seidel pleaded guilty in August.
Assistant Prosecutor Mike Ostrowski described the details of the violent evening as he pushed for a maximum sentence.
“All he had to do was stop,” Ostrowski said of Seidel.
The prosecutor said police were initially trying to pull the man over for speeding. Ostrowski said Seidel’s vehicle struck Reeves’ cruiser at more than 70 mph.
Malestein said Seidel had been drinking at the Old Oar House Irish Pub in Millville before the crash. The judge said he got into a confrontation with an ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
“The defendant’s history reflects poor choices,” Malestein said. “Nothing good can ever come from eluding the police in such a fashion.”
The courtroom audience grew emotional as testimony was offered.
“One thing I learned was that no matter how inebriated you are, you have not lost the God-given ability to make choices,” said Kathleen Reeves, the mother of the fallen Millville officer. “Timothy Seidel’s choices took away a wonderful son, an awesome father, a good husband, a loyal friend and a police officer who really did want to help.”
Johnathan Seidel told the court that every time his last name is mentioned by someone he has to explain that he isn’t related to the Seidel who admitted to killing his partner.
“I served in the Army, I got an education, and I became a police officer,” he said. “None of those paths were easy. I worked hard to make the name Seidel one that I’d be proud to bear, and one my son would be proud to bear. Tim Seidel — in one night of horrible choices — has overshadowed any good that my name has brought with it.”
Reeves’ wife Susan, who was also a Millville officer, was the last to address the court for the Reeves family. She has been in the process of retiring from the department since July to care for their 4-year-old son Alex.
“I want him to know the pain and suffering he has caused by his cowardly and dishonorable actions that day,” Reeves said. “In the 10 years I’ve been a police officer, I’ve seen people draw their last breath. I’ve been the one to give their loved ones the word that their loved one has passed. I felt compassion for those people, but I had no clue what they were going through. I did not understand the scope of their pain, until (that day), when I had a fellow officer bang on my door and tell me I had to go to the police department because something happened to Chris.”
Two of Timothy Seidel’s friends and his mother spoke, before the defendant spoke himself as the room became tense.
“I can never begin to comprehend the level of pain and grief that I’ve brought with my actions,” he said. “I can in no way ever express how deeply remorseful I am, and how much I regret my actions from that night. I’d like to extend my sincerest apologies and heartfelt condolences to Officer Seidel and the Reeves family.
Reeves was the department’s first in-the-line-of-duty death in 93 years.
Timothy Seidel pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter while eluding and second-degree aggravated assault while eluding. He received 14 years for the aggravated manslaughter charge, and five years for the aggravated assault charge.
Timothy Seidel must serve 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Originally published here.