Drunk NJ cop starts fight and ends it with deadly gunfire — video
UNION TOWNSHIP (Union) — The family of a 37-year-old Piscataway man who was shot and killed by a drunken off-duty police officer continues to press for a law that would prohibit people from carrying firearms into bars.
A Union County jury last month found Newark police officer Joseph Macchia, 37, guilty of manslaughter in the May 2016 shooting of Michael Gaffney outside Paddy's Place in this township. Macchia now faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced July 27 in Superior Court in Elizabeth.
Although police union officials immediately came to Macchia's defense — and continued to defend him after the guilty verdict — security video shows Macchia instigating the fight with Gaffney and avoiding all opportunities to walk away from the late-night skirmish.
Macchia pulled out his handgun and shot Gaffney three times in the torso after the man knocked Macchia to the ground and pummeled him.
Prosecutors said Macchia’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.13 percent.
Prosecutors released clips of the surveillance footage in response to an Open Public Records Act request by New Jersey 101.5.
The video shows that the confrontation lasted less than 10 minutes.
The video begins with Macchia, Gaffney and at least two other men outside the bar smoking cigarettes.
The two other men appear to confront Gaffney before walking away while Macchia appears to take a fighting stance. The two begin punching each other before people who come from inside the bar separate them. There is no audio in the video.
The video shows Gaffney, who lost his shirt in the brief fight, go inside the bar while Macchia remains outside. Macchia's wife can be seen trying to hold back her husband in the middle of the street and tries to get him to leave, but Macchia continues to push past her and others and walk toward the bar.
Gaffney comes out of the bar a second time and Macchia makes his way to him on the sidewalk. Macchia's acquaintances appear to try to hold Macchia back from Gaffney. Macchia's wife, meanwhile, appears to give up and sits on the curb.
Finally, Gaffney confronts Macchia. The two face off until Macchia touches Gaffney who shoves away Macchia's arms. Blows erupt as a group of people try to break them up. Macchia, losing the fight, falls to the sidewalk and can be seen removing his gun from his belt and firing at Macchia as a half dozen people stand inches away.
Prosecutors did not release part of the video that shows Gaffney injured, out of respect for his family.
The case brought attention to the state’s lack of laws regulating firearms at establishments that serve alcohol or handling by people who are under the influence.
Gaffney's family also lobbied for charges to be brought against Macchia. Prosecutors never arrested Macchia but brought the case before a grand jury, which made the decision to indict Macchia and bring him to trial.
After the guilty verdict last month, Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said the incident "marked a prime example of the tragic and senseless consequences that often arise when alcohol and firearms align."
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.