RED BANK JUDGE CLEARS WALL COP

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In a case that was moved to Red Bank Municipal Court to avoid the appearance of partiality, a Wall Township police captain was cleared of a drunken driving charge despite evidence that a Breathalyzer test showed him at twice the legal limit of intoxication.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Judge William Himelman found that the attorney for Capt. Bernard Sullivan had raised enough reasonable doubts to warrant a not-guilty verdict.

From the story:

“This is the first time in five years I have found someone not guilty in a drunk driving case,” Himelman said.

An Associated Press story says Municipal Prosecutor James N. Butler was “incredulous” at the verdict.

From the story:

“I just don’t understand it,” he said Monday afternoon. “Once we get a .19 [blood-alcohol level], how do you just say he’s not guilty? That’s saying you don’t believe the (arresting) police officer.”

Wall Patrolman Todd Verrecchia, who had been disciplined previously by Sullivan, had testified that he saw Sullivan run a red light at an intersection of Route 35, cross in front of Verrecchia’s patrol car and nearly collide with another car on the highway.

From the Press:

Sullivan continued across Route 35 and headed toward his home up Belmar Boulevard in Wall on the wrong side of the road until Verrecchia pulled him over near Marconi Road, Verrecchia said.

Himelman did not respond to a phone message late in the day, the AP reported. Here’s what Butler had to say, according to the Press:

“To me, it set the criminal justice system back a long way, because what it said is,
‘Don’t arrest a cop.’ ”

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