Off-duty officer charged with assault Incident happened on N.J. Turnpike BALTIMORE COUNTY

August 17, 1993|By Staff Report

An incident involving an off-duty Baltimore County policeman and a car containing three young men on the New Jersey Turnpike Saturday led to the officer's arrest on assault and weapons charges, authorities said yesterday.

Officer Elmer S. Blackwell, a member of the county force for eight years who is assigned to the department's drunken driving unit, was charged with aggravated assault and use of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

He was released Saturday night on his own recognizance by Middlesex County Municipal Court Judge Herbert Kaplan.

Detective Matthew Welch of the Turnpike Troop of the New Jersey State Police, said yesterday that prosecutors will review the case during the next several weeks and decide whether to take it to a grand jury.

According to Detective Welch, the incident occurred about 3:15 p.m. Saturday when Officer Blackwell, on his way to New York in his private vehicle, was driving in the left lane of the three-lane New Jersey Turnpike.

A car with three men in their 20s swerved from the center lane into the left lane, forcing Officer Blackwell's car onto the shoulder.

Officer Blackwell told New Jersey police that he tried to signal to the driver of the other car to move from the left lane so he could continue on his way. Officer Blackwell said the other car didn't move, however, and he used the center lane to pass, Detective Welch said.

The three occupants of the other car told police that the officer pointed his gun at them out of his car window as he pulled up alongside.

Officer Blackwell told investigators that all he did was show the three young men his badge in a wallet holder, Detective Welch said.

The young men -- identified by New Jersey State Police as Ronald A. Buriello, Howard J. Waldrop and Omar Sepulveda, all of Bergen County, N.J. -- said they backed away from Officer Blackwell's car and, about 15 minutes later, spotted a state police car parked on the shoulder. They pulled over and told the trooper their story. State police subsequently stopped Officer Blackwell on the turnpike in Edison Township.

Detective Welch said that Officer Blackwell was carrying his off-duty 9-mm semiautomatic.

Officer Blackwell's police powers have been suspended and he has been assigned to administrative duties, according to Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a county police spokesman.

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