2011-08-18 / Front Page

Charges upheld against No. Bruns. police officer

Keith Buckley faces vehicular homicide, official misconduct in death of Lt. Christopher Zerby
BY JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

Charges of official misconduct lodged against a North Brunswick police officer accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a fellow officer have been upheld for the second time by the Appellate Division of state Superior Court. According to a document posted on the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Appellate Division on Aug. 11, two official misconduct charges against North Brunswick police Lt. Keith Buckley that were appealed in February will be reinstated.

The state of New Jersey last year appealed a dismissal of charges that stemmed from the August 2008 fatal motor vehicle accident in which Buckley, while on duty, was driving his brother’s rented 2006 Dodge Viper. Fellow police officer Lt. Christopher Zerby, a passenger in the vehicle, died as a result of his injuries.

Based on a second-degree count of vehicular homicide charged against Buckley in October 2008, the prosecution is alleging that Buckley is responsible for Zerby’s subsequent death because he was driving at speeds up to 94 mph in a 45- mph zone at the time of the crash, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

On July 7, 2009, two counts of official misconduct were handed up from the grand jury based on allegations that Buckley was driving a nonpolice vehicle while on duty without wearing his handgun and handcuffs, and as Zerby’s superior, allowed him to do the same. The indictment states that Buckley violated the rules and regulations of the North Brunswick Police Department, violated his sworn duty as a police officer by endangering the public he was being paid to serve, violated his obligation to protect his passenger, and violated local traffic laws he was being paid to enforce.

Superior Court Trial Judge Frederick DeVesa, sitting in New Brunswick, dismissed the charges, saying that the indictment was too flawed and too vague to present to a jury. DeVesa has since retired.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.

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