Officials: NJ trooper justified in killing man with knife

HARWICK, N.J. (AP) — State authorities have concluded that a New Jersey state trooper was justified in shooting and killing a man armed with a knife who they said threatened to kill his father and other relatives last year.

The state attorney general's office reviewed the June 2018 shooting and concluded that the use of deadly force against 32-year-old Stephen Coeglia was warranted and presenting the case to a grand jury wasn't necessary, reported.


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Troopers responding to a report of a domestic dispute heard Coeglia threatening relatives in the Hardwick home and found him with a knife in a second-floor bedroom, authorities said.

Video footage from a body-worn camera showed that when troopers opened the door of a bedroom, Cogelia was standing behind the door holding a hunting knife over his head with the blade pointed toward the officers, authorities said. One trooper fired, killing Coeglia.

“An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm,” the attorney general's statement said.

Officials also said officers are trained that “distance from the threat” is one of many factors to be considered when using deadly force. Coeglia was about five feet away and the trooper said he thought he was imminent danger, a judgement supported by body cam footage, forensic and ballistic evidence and an autopsy, the statement said.

Authorities said an employer of Coeglia told detectives that on the day of the shooting he spoke of “killing his father and death by cop.”