12/14/2000

Grand jury investigation into
New Jersey hotel fatal police shooting
[Trenton, NJ]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(TRENTON, N.J.) -- A state grand jury is looking into the fatal police shooting of a murder suspect in a Ramada Inn last week, which left three officers injured.

The director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Kathryn Flicker, announced Monday that her reasons to call for a grand jury investigation "primarily revolve around public safety issues and adherence to several law enforcement procedural requirements."

On Dec. 7 detectives from the Fort Lee Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office went to the hotel in East Windsor, Mercer County, to question Richard L. Holtz, 45, whose girlfriend had been found stabbed in his apartment on Dec. 7, police said.

According to police, Holtz came out of his hotel room "brandishing a black-colored object" and threatening to kill them. The officers fired 27 times, striking Holtz at least once in the heart, according to a preliminary autopsy report. The object Holtz was holding later turned out to be a television remote control.

Three officers were injured in the melee. Fort Lee Detective Ira Haas was grazed in the left foot and thigh from ricocheting bullet; Bergen County Sgt. Gregory Donatello twisted his right ankle; and Lt. William Cullen, of the Ft. Lee Police broke his left leg, authorities said.

Sources told the Bergen Record that the grand jury will determine if police acted recklessly by not evacuating the people from the adjacent rooms and failing to follow procedure by not alerting state police tactical units.

"Based upon the information that is available to me, I believe the detectives from the Prosecutor's Office and the Fort Lee Police Department officers acted reasonably and prudently and properly under the circumstances," Bergen County prosecutor William Schmidt told the Record on Monday.

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