Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, announced today that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office (ECPO) is investigating an officer-involved shooting that took place earlier this morning in the vicinity of Court and 3rd Streets in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
According to the preliminary investigation, at approximately 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Elizabeth Police Department (EPD) received a report of a domestic violence incident. Responding EPD officers encountered Michael Bates (37 years old, Orange, NJ) in the area of Court and 3rd Streets. Bates approached the two responding EPD officers and threatened to harm them. The officers discharged their service weapons, striking Bates once. He was subsequently transported to University Hospital in Newark for treatment of non life-threatening injuries. Bates has been charged with third-degree making terroristic threats and fourth-degree creating a false public alarm
In New Jersey, all investigations of police deadly force incidents are governed by the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive, issued in 2006 and strengthened in 2015, which establishes strict procedures for conducting such investigations. It requires the Attorney General to review all deadly force investigations, and in some cases conduct them as well. In accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive, the Attorney General reassigned the investigation related to Bates and to the EPD officers’ use of force from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office (UCPO), which was the initial responding agency, to the ECPO to avoid a possible conflict of interest, or appearance of one, as one of the responding EPD officers has a professional relationship with the UCPO. The Independent Prosecutor Directive further provides that unless the undisputed facts indicate the use of force was justified under the law, the circumstances of the incident must ultimately be presented to a grand jury, composed of 23 civilians, for its independent review.
For additional information regarding the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive and how officer-involved shootings are investigated in New Jersey, please visit: https://www.nj.gov/oag/independent-prosecutor/
The aforementioned criminal charges are mere accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.