By JOHN T. WARD
A Red Bank cop came to the aid of stranded motorist last month in the first of a series of related encounters between police and the driver, who was later shot dead by a State Trooper, authorities said Monday.
Patrolman Stan Balmer, who leads one of the borough’s two K9 teams, was off-duty and enroute home following his shift when he came upon a car broken down in the center lane of the Garden State Parkway in Brick Township on May 23, according to Chief Darren McConnell.
Though he’s not identified by name, Balmer appears in video made public Monday by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as part of an information release concerning the death of 28-year-old Maurice Gordon of Poughkeepsie, New York.
The 3:13 a.m. encounter between “an off-duty Red Bank Police Officer driving a police vehicle” and Gordon was the first of four Gordon had with police on the Parkway before he was shot four hours later during an altercation with State Police Sergeant Randall Wetzel, according to the AG’s release.
Balmer and his family live with his K9 charge, Hunter, which is why he is permitted to take a borough vehicle to and from home, McConnell said. The dog was in Balmer’s vehicle at the time, he said.
From the AG’s release:
- Recording 03: “Red Bank MVR.” At approximately 3:13 a.m. on May 23, 2020, an off-duty Red Bank Police Officer driving a police vehicle pulled up near Mr. Gordon’s car, which had run out of gas and was stopped in the middle lane of the southbound Garden State Parkway near Exit 91 in Brick, N.J. The interaction was recorded by the mobile video recorder (MVR) attached to the dashboard of the Red Bank patrol vehicle, as depicted in Recording 3. The Red Bank officer called a tow truck. (NOTE: A short time later, an off-duty State Trooper driving to work in his personal car pulled over to assist Mr. Gordon and the Red Bank officer. The off-duty State Trooper provided assistance and then departed. Because the State Trooper was in his personal vehicle, there is no MVR footage of this encounter.)
- Recording 04: “Stop 1 MVR – Pt. A.” A short time after the off-duty Trooper departed the scene, a second, on-duty State Trooper pulled up to assist Mr. Gordon and the Red Bank officer. Because this second State Trooper was in his patrol vehicle, the encounter was captured by his vehicle’s MVR, as depicted in Recording 4. That second State Trooper set out flares and departed.
On the trooper’s dashcam video, Balmer can be heard telling the officer he found Gordon’s stopped mid-roadway, with its lights off, apparently out of gas, and the driver seeming “squirrelly.” Balmer told the trooper he used his vehicle to push Gordon’s off to the shoulder so it didn’t get hit by another vehicle.
Grewal’s office said Gordon had additional encounters on the highway with State Police before his fatal encounter with Wetzel, in Bass River. The shooting was partially caught on dashcam video from Wetzel’s vehicle.
The full chronology, according the AG’s office, can be found here, along with links to recordings.
The material was released under a directive Grewal issued in December concerning investigations of police use of force that results in serious bodily injury or death.
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