UNION TOWNSHIP (Union) — A Newark police officer is facing five to 10 years in prison after being convicted of shooting and killing a Piscataway man in a bar fight two years ago.

Joseph Macchia, 37, was found guilty of reckless manslaughter by a Union County jury this week. He went to trial after being charged by a grand jury in December 2017, months after the May 13 shooting outside Paddy’s Place on Rosemont Avenue North.

Authorities say Macchia pulled out his service weapon and shot it four times, striking 37-year-old Michael Gaffney in the torso with three shots.

Police say the two men, who knew each other but were not friends, got into a fight inside the bar but reconciled. Moments later, the altercation flared again, resulting in the shooting.

Prosecutors said Macchia “took the law into his own hands and recklessly ended a life.” On the day of the shooting, however, the Newark police union president said that the officer “was justified in his actions.”

Prosecutors said Macchia’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.13 percent. The shooting was also caught on security video.

Loved ones of Gaffney pressed for months for Macchia to be charged with a crime before the grand jury handed up its indictment.

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.

Michael Gaffney (via Facebook)

"We did it, Michael P Gaffney," Gaffney's mother, Judy Valdes said on a Facebook page dedicated to the case. "Justice has been served, a small victory for this senseless tragedy but nonetheless, he’s finally held accountable for his actions."

“This case marked a prime example of the tragic and senseless consequences that often arise when alcohol and firearms align,” Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said after the verdict, which took the jury six days to reach. “We feel that justice was served with the verdict reached by the jury yesterday, and we sincerely thank the jurors for their long period of service and careful consideration of the facts.”

Macchia had remained free until Wednesday, when a Superior Court judge revoked his $100,000 bail. He will be held until his sentencing on July 27 in Elizabeth.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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