A state grand jury has voted not to file criminal charges against a police officer who was involved in a fatal shooting in Buena Vista Township last year.

42-year-old Roy K. Jackel was shot by Sgt. David Jernegan of the Franklin Township Police Department on April 5, 2021, after he stole a police vehicle following an accident.

According to an investigation,

Officers from the Franklin Township Police Department responded at approximately 2:50 p.m. to the scene of a motor vehicle crash. One of the drivers involved in the collision, later identified as Mr. Jackel, left the scene of the accident and ran into the woods. An officer followed him and Mr. Jackel told the officer that he had a gun and would shoot if the officer came any closer. Mr. Jackel then exited the woods holding a large pitchfork-like tool, entered an unoccupied marked police vehicle parked at the scene, and drove away.

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After a brief pursuit, Jackel stopped the police vehicle on Oak Road in Buena Vista, got out, and began walking toward the officers with his right hand behind his back.

As he got closer Mr. Jackel began to run toward the officers, continuing to hold his right arm behind his back and ignoring commands to show his hands. As Mr. Jackel neared, Sgt. Jernegan fired one round from his service firearm, striking Mr. Jackel.

Officers provided medical aid, but Jackel died at the scene.

The encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) before being turned over to a grand jury.

After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, a grand jury determined charges should not be brought against Sgt. Jernegan.

Further information about how fatal police encounters are investigated in New Jersey can be found on the state's website.

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