Trenton, NJ – Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced on Tuesday that a grand jury had declined to bring charges against the police sergeant who shot a man pointing an airsoft gun at him.
Marianne O’Shea told the Morristown Green that she pleaded with the Morristown Medical Center not to release her son, 24-year-old Timothy O’Shea, after a week-long psychiatric evaluation almost two years ago.
“It killed me seeing my kid in the hospital. But that was the safe place for him,” the mother said.
The next day, July 14, 2020, she arrived home to find her son bleeding from cuts to his wrist and neck, the Morristown Green reported.
Marianne O’Shea said she fled the house after Timothy O’Shea displayed a handgun.
He told her that if she called the police, “they’re going to have to shoot me,” the Morristown Green reported.
The mother called 911 and Morristown, Morris Township, and Morris Plains police officers responded to the residence on Fairchild Avenue, the Morris NewsBee reported.
She later said that she had no idea that 9 mm Beretta airsoft gun he had brandished at her wasn’t the real thing.
Timothy O’Shea’s father was a retired Morris Township police lieutenant who worked in retirement as an executive administrative assistant at the police department, the Morristown Green reported.
His mother said a number of the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene that day were familiar with their son and his mental health struggles.
Platkin told reporters on April 12 that Timothy O’Shea was holding what appeared to be a genuine firearm when he came out of the house, the Daily Voice reported.
“Officers pleaded with Mr. O’Shea to drop the weapon, but he did not comply,” the acting attorney general said. “Mr. O’Shea raised the weapon and pointed it in the direction of Sgt. [Christopher] Cornine, who then fired 4 shots, striking Mr. O’Shea twice.”
He said Timothy O’Shea was transported to Morristown Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, the Daily Voice reported.
“The pistol that was in his hand was recovered at the scene and determined to be a replica Beretta 9mm airsoft pistol,” Platkin said.
The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity (OPI) investigated the officer-involved shooting, the Daily Voice reported.
The findings of the investigation were presented to a grand jury who reviewed bodycam videos, autopsy results, and forensic evidence.
The grand jury deliberated on Monday and concluded with “no bill,” meaning “the actions of the officer who shot at Mr. O’Shea should not result in charges against him,” Platkin explained.
Airsoft guns are banned from sale or open carrying in the state of New Jersey because lawmakers believe they can easily be mistaken for real weapons, according to the Daily Voice.
Platkin said that was why the officer was justified in shooting the man pointing an airsoft gun at him.
“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,” the acting attorney general said.