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Garfield teen wasn’t shot in back, prosecutor says

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli took the unusual step this afternoon of announcing that a man killed in a police shooting wasn’t shot in the back, and that one bullet wound, not two, was found.

Because a grand jury investigation into the shooting is under way – as is required under state law – Molinelli said he had to be extremely circumspect.

However, the prosecutor said he felt obligated to respond to what he dubbed an erroneous report in The Bergen Record .

Jennifer Borg, a North Jersey Media Group vice president and the company’s chief counsel, said nothing in the paper’s news story or subsequent editorial, referred to by Molinelli in a statement issued this afternoon, was incorrect.

“At no time did The Record’s article or the editorial refer to a written report, as Molinelli claims,” Borg told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “We just talked about the preliminary results.”

Borg noted that an amended notice of tort claim, filed by the family of Malik Williams in Fe bruary, specifically refers to the fact that “an independent autopsy investigation preliminarily revealed that there appeared to be two bullet holes on the back of the decedent’s body with no apparent entry or exit wounds to the front of the body.”

The Feb. 11 newspaper story gave rise to questions in an editorial two days later about Williams likely being shot in the back after he escaped from Garfield police headquarters, was tracked to a residential garage and, according to the officers, came at them with implements from the shed.

The editorial’s presumptions are wrong, Molinelli said. For one thing, there was only one bullet hole, he said. For another, it’s an exit wound and not an entrace wound.

“So as to ensure public confidence and an accurate accounting of the events of December 10, 2011, this office wishes to advise the public, on a limited basis, that the results of the forensic investigation and evidence received by this office after the publication of The Record editorial indicates that Mr. Williams had one bullet hole in his back, not two,” the prosecutor said in a statement.

“[F]urther, this was determined to be an exit wound and not an entrance wound,” he said. “This limited information is released in order to correct what was published in The Record editorial.”

This isn’t the first time Molinelli has tangled with The Bergen Record over the Garfield incident: Molinelli (CVP PHOTO)

Molinelli accuses activist, newspaper of ‘trying to make news, not report it’

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Prosecutor John L. Molinelli accused The Bergen Record newspaper and an activist protesting the police shooting death of a Garfield escapee of “trying to MAKE news and not REPORT it” by showing up unannounced Friday and refusing to leave a private area of his office. READ MORE….

“The public must be made aware that the operations of a Grand Jury are BY LAW secret and are not subject to public dissemination.  To ensure the protection of the rights of all persons and interests involved, no person may comment upon nor disclose what transpires before a Grand Jury except by court order.”

“While this office ordinarily would not release information from an ongoing investigation, it is believed that, by the above statement, the public has been misled into believing that Malik Williams may have been shot in the back by police officers from the Garfield Police Department and the Bergen County Police Department on that date.”

Molinelli said he wouldn’t “address the basis upon which the Record gained information to publish this statement, but this office is aware that no such independent autopsy was published or reduced in writing at any time so as to have been subject to review and, thereafter, be the subject of this statement in this editorial.

“In the event any privately retained examination/investigation is thoroughly undertaken, this office will fully cooperate and make available all appropriate investigative materials.”


Prosecutor warned activist against trespassing prior to arrests

Friday, 20 January 2012 16:12 Jerry DeMarco

EXCLUSIVE: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said he warned a community activist demanding answers in the shooting death of a Garfield teen in writing that he risked arrest if he came to county offices unannounced and refused to leave — which is what happened earlier today. CLIFFVIEW PILOT has obtained a copy of the warning letter sent by the prosecutor: READ MORE….

Prosecutor: Escaped inmate armed with tools when police shot him

Sunday, 11 December 2011 16:39 Jerry DeMarco

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli this afternoon confirmed a CLIFFVIEW PILOT report from last night that 19-year-old Malik Williams of Garfield was hiding in a garage after escaping from police custody and charged two officers with tools from inside when they shot him dead late yesterday afternoon. READ MORE….

Escaped prisoner shot dead by police

Saturday, 10 December 2011 17:50 Jerry DeMarco

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: A 19-year-old escaped prisoner was shot dead by police as he swung a pair of tools at them in a Garfield garage where he had barricaded himself, a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . Several sources in Garfield identified him as Malik Williams.

“He was being processed for a domestic incident when he escaped,” another law enforcement official told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The Bergen County Police K-9 unit was called and a search began. READ MORE….

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