NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—It took nineteen days, but authorities finally released the name of the man shot by police on September 1, and the names of the officers who shot him.
Three weeks after three police officers shot 32-year-old David E. Simms, Jr.—the man who lunged at police while raising a machete on the Middlesex side of Route 27—remarkably little information has been made available to the general public about the matter.
Simms, a resident of the block where the shooting occurred, survived his injuries and was still at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital as of September 20, where he was in “good” condition, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) will be handling the investigation into the incident, which involved officers from both New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) and Franklin Township Police Department (FTPD).
The initial call for help came from someone who said Simms had cut them “on the head” with a machete, according to criminal charges filed on September 5.
The subsequent shooting, and a few moments leading up to it, were captured on a disturbing video recorded from the Somerset County side of the line and obtained by New Brunswick Today.
A spokesperson for the MCPO confirmed our report that NBPD Officers Raymond Hansen and Marvin Shaw fired their handguns during the incident, and added FTPD Detective Ordel Taylor to the list of cops who shot Simms.
One unidentified officer in a white shirt also deployed a taser, according to the video.
It’s not the first time a police shooting has occurred near the Middlesex-Somerset border. In April 2016, Franklin Township police chased a man named Diahlo Grant from Franklin into New Brunswick where they fatally shot him, sparking mass protests.
Once again, Middlesex County authorities are leading the investigation into a police shooting on the border with Somerset. But this time, no one died and no major protests have taken place, though many community members have expressed outrage and disappointment with the way the police handled the incident.
Still, others praised the officers involved for neutralizing the threat Simms posed without taking his life or injuring anyone else.
“Attorney General protocols will be followed, and at this time, comment will be declined,” said Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolonda Ciccone, who had previously issued a brief statement on September 1 and otherwise has not commented on the matter.
On the night of the shooting, Ciccone said “police officers attempted to deescalate the situation,” though there was little evidence of that in the brief video.
Simms and the officers yelled at one another, while some officers yelled to each other in the moments before the shooting.
Seven officers with guns drawn, and one more with a taser, approached Simms and partially surrounded him, with at least one officer getting dangerously close to Simms. As the officer looked to his right, then to his left, Simms raised the machete and charged at him.
Simms will face some serious criminal charges, including:
- two counts of first-degree Attempted Murder
- two counts of third-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
- two counts of fourth-degree Poss. of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose
One count of each crime is for the alleged attack on the victim who initially called police, and one count of each is for lunging at the responding officers.
One possible reason for the delay in information being shared was uncertainty about the “initial incident location,” according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson, Brynn Krause.
On September 5, four days after the shooting, Krause said: “The incident as a whole is still being investigated and Prosecutor Ciccone doesn’t want to comment on any details of the investigation until the initial incident location has been determined.”
Krause said charges wouldn’t be filed until it was determined where the initial incident took place, “because the jurisdiction is unclear.”
But that same day, NBPD Officer Kevin Schroeck signed the first criminal complaint, containing three charges against Simms, all for the initial alleged attack. Judge Katty Wong Taylor in New Brunswick Municipal Court found probable cause for those charges.
Then, on September 18, three more charges were filed related to Simms interaction with police. Probable cause for that complaint, also signed by Schroeck, was approved by New Brunswick Judge Philip Borow.
On September 20, the MCPO finally released the names of the individuals involved in the incident, providing New Brunswick Today with copies of the complaints the following day.
Once Simms is released from the hospital, prosecutors are hoping a Superior Court Judge will order Simms to be detained at the county jail pending trial on the six charges.
Simms was due in court for a detention hearing on September 22, but the matter was postponed until September 26.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.