In Millville fatal police car crash, critical court decision pending

Submitted by Criminal Defense Attorney, Jeffrey Hark

Original published on

Timothy Seidel

Timothy Seidel during a previous court appearance for the case involving the motor vehicle crash that killed Millville police officer Christopher Reeves

BRIDGETON — A critical decision rests in the court’s hands in the case involving Timothy Seidel, the Commercial Township man charged in connection with the death of Patrolman Christopher Reeves in 2012.

Last week, the state filed a motion aiming to preclude the defense from arguing that law enforcement’s pursuit of Seidel on July 8, 2012 violated the state’s police vehicular pursuit guidelines.

Cumberland County Assistant Prosecutor’s Mike Ostrowski and Charles Wettstein are representing the state in the matter. Wettstein said the defense’s argument remains irrelevant to the case and merely seeks to divert Seidel’s culpability.

He noted, however, that the decision remains critical to how the case ultimately plays out because of its potential impact on diverting a jury’s attention at trial.

But Seidel’s defense attorney, Jeffery Hark, of the Cherry Hill firm Hark & Hark, believes the argument is relevant — calling the police’s pursuit and conduct that day a “clear violation of the Attorney General’s (police vehicular) pursuit guidelines as well as local police department guidelines.”

Adding, ” … this high-speed pursuit commenced only after a routine motor vehicle offense was observed, as opposed to an indictable offense, such as a bank robbery.”

The argument has been discussed at multiple status conference hearings, Hark said.

In the early morning hours of July 8, 2012, police began pursuing a car driven by Seidel, 24, of Laurel Lake.

The pursuit began at the intersection of Harrison and Buck streets, according to authorities.

At a May 2013 bail hearing, the prosecution reported Seidel was driving in excess of 70 mph and had a blood alcohol content of .16 at the time — twice the legal limit, according to previous reports.

Reeves and another officer, Johnathan Seidel, who is not related to Timothy Seidel, were in a patrol car a half-mile away when the pursuit began.

The officers were in the midst of responding to the call for back-up when Timothy Seidel struck the cruiser at the intersection of Broad and 3rd streets.

Authorities pronounced Reeves dead at the scene.

Timothy Seidel was indicted on two counts of aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide, eluding police and aggravated assault by auto.

According to Hark, although the court’s decision is pending, he said the court indicated that the defense will be able to cross examine all of the officers involved in the high-speed pursuit. What remains pending is the defense’s ability to question whether the conduct of the pursuing police officers violated the Attorney General’s police pursuit guidelines.

Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein heard last week’s motion. Malestein has not yet rendered a decision whether to allow or reject the defense’s argument, but Wettstein said a decision could come as early as this week.

Timothy Seidel remains lodged in the Cumberland County Jail on $400,000 bail.

Prior Related Articles:

Timothy Seidel Faces Additional Charges – Represented by Criminal Defense Attorney Jeffrey Hark

Timothy Seidel, Fatal Cop Crash – Represented by Jeffrey Hark, New Jersey Criminal Lawyer


Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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