ELIZABETH — A Newark police officer who killed a Piscataway man during a drunken bar brawl two years ago was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

Joseph Macchia, 37, was found guilty last month by a Union County jury of manslaughter. At most, he faced up to 10 years in prison.

Macchia shot and killed Michael Gaffney after Macchia instigated a fight with the father outside  Paddy's Place in Union Township.

Surveillance video shows Macchia's pregnant wife pleading with her police-officer husband to leave. She is seen holding him back from going after Gaffney, who went back into the bar after their first scuffle.

After Gaffney returns outside, Macchia confronts him again and they exchange blows, with Macchia ending up on the pavement.

Macchia pulled out his handgun and shot Gaffney three times in the torso at close range as other bar patrons and his wife stood around them.

Prosecutors said Macchia’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.13 percent.

"The judge saw right through Joe Macchia's lies. He had zero remorse," Gaffney's girlfriend, Johanna Aguilar said in a Facebook message to supporters and loved ones. "Off to state prison for 6 long, hard years. It may not bring Michael P Gaffney back to us, but it's a little bit of Justice..."

Courtesy of the family
Courtesy of the family

The Newark police union defended Macchia's actions and continued to do so after the verdict. Macchia was not arrested or charged with a crime immediately after the shooting. Prosecutors presented evidence to a grand jury, which decided to hand up an indictment against him.

Gaffney's family has lobbied for a new law regulating firearms at establishments that serve alcohol or handling by people who are under the influence.

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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