Newark police officer indicted for manslaughter in connection with fatal bar shooting

A Union County grand jury today returned an indictment against a Newark police officer who fatally shot a Middlesex County man outside a Union Township bar while off duty earlier this year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.

Joseph Macchia, 35, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of 37-year-old Michael Gaffney of Piscataway.

An investigation into the incident began when Union Township police responded to Paddy’s Place, a bar on the 900 block of Rosemont Avenue North in Union, early on Friday, May 13, 2016. At that location officers found the body of Gaffney, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The investigation, which involved the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit and Homicide Task Force, the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, the Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit, and the Union Township Police Department, determined that prior to the shooting, Officer Macchia and Gaffney engaged in a physical altercation outside the bar.

After several minutes, Macchia and Gaffney separated from one another. However, several minutes later, they reengaged in a second physical altercation.

During the course of that second altercation, Macchia fired his service weapon multiple times, fatally shooting Gaffney.

Macchia turned himself in to authorities Wednesday afternoon, and bail in the case was set at $100,000.

This investigation was conducted in strict accordance with New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Directive 2006-5 and the July 28, 2015 supplemental directive, which governs all investigations into use of deadly force by law enforcement. Anyone with information about this matter is still being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Kalebota at 908-527-4567.

Convictions on second-degree crimes are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison. These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.