NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) — A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Gulia Dale III, 61, of Newton, who was shot and fatally wounded by two Newton police officers on July 4, 2021.
Dale’s death was investigated by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019.
In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the directive.
The investigation included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of video and autopsy results from the medical examiner. This evidence, including any available video of the incident as well as video interviews of the involved officers and other eyewitnesses when available, is presented to the grand jury.
After hearing the testimony and evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations Monday, February 6, 2023, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded no criminal charges should be filed against Newton Police Officers Garrett Armstrong and Steven Kneidl (pronounced “Nigh-dle”).
According to the investigation, three uniformed Newton police officers arrived at a residence on Clive Place in Newton, at around 9:30 p.m. in response to a 9-1-1 call from a family member concerned about Dale’s behavior and the fact that he had a gun, authorities said.
When police arrived, Dale was attempting to leave his residence in a vehicle. The officers gave him verbal commands to get out the vehicle and he then got out. Dale opened the rear driver’s side door, briefly leaned inside, and then closed the door. He subsequently got in the driver’s seat, and officers continued to give verbal commands for him to exit the vehicle, authorities said.
Dale got out once again and pointed a handgun at officers. Officer Steven Kneidl and Officer Garrett Armstrong discharged their duty firearms, striking and fatally wounding Dale. Officers recovered a .45-caliber handgun near Dale’s body, authorities said.
Officers rendered medical aid until emergency medical personnel arrived. Dale was pronounced dead at around 9:46 p.m., authorities said.
The officers were equipped with body-worn cameras at the time. The recordings were previously released and included video footage from the mobile video recorders in three police vehicles, the body-worn cameras of Officers Armstrong and Kneidl, and an audio recording of the 9-1-1 call.
To view the recordings, click here.
A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved. The grand jury is instructed on the elements of the potential criminal offenses, including criminal homicide offenses, that could be brought and, as required by statutes, the grand jury is instructed on self-defense and other forms of legal justification.
A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.
At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.