A township police officer who was fired in 2015 for eating at a diner outside his patrol zone received a reinstatement by a Passaic County Superior Court judge recently, according to an article by NJ.com.
The 34-year-old police officer was fired after an internal affairs investigation and an administrative hearing found that his September 2015 meal break at the Park Wayne Diner was “unauthorized.”
According to court documents, the officer was eating at the diner when he received a radio call that a nursing home patient had gone into cardiac arrest. He paid for his meal and left the diner, driving at a high rate of speed.
Nevertheless, the patient who had gone into cardiac arrest died. Although the officer’s attorney has consistently maintained that the patient’s death was not caused by any delay in the officer’s response to the call, the officer was fired. He also faced accusations that he mislead internal affairs investigators about his location and how fast he drove his patrol car from the diner to the nursing home. The township stated the cause of his termination was neglect of duty and “lack of candor.”
The officer appealed the termination in court. The judge overturned the termination, finding that the officer had “no history of repeated disobedience of orders, any violent private or public behavior, and he has not displayed any pattern of willful contempt for the authority of law.” The court also noted that the officer has received commendations on two separate occasions for saving lives.
The court ruled that the appropriate discipline in the case was to reinstate him in the Township of Wayne Police Department “at the rank he had on the date of his dismissal.”
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