Ocean County officer cleared in failed suicide-by-cop shooting
JACKSON — State investigators say a police officer was justified in shooting a suicidal knife-wielding man at his family's township home last year.
Sgt. Wayne Olejarz shot and wounded Travis Van Pelt on Dec. 23, 2017, after yelling at Van Pelt to "drop the knife!"
Investigators say the 22-year-old ignored the commands and charged at the officer with the serrated knife.
Police had been called to the Laurel Avenue home by Van Pelt's brother, who said his sibing was intoxicated and had assaulted him and his father.
While on his way to the hospital, Van Pelt revealed that he had wanted the officer to kill him and that he felt bad that he had forced the officer to fire his weapon, investigators said in a report released this week.
In May, Van Pelt pleaded guilty to aggravated assault by attempting to cause injury with a weapon. He initially had been charged with attempted murder. In July, he was sentenced to five years of probation after having served 158 days in county jail. He was released to Ancora Psychological Hospital for treatment.
Details about the prosecution and sentencing as well as the state Attorney General's Office report into the shooting were not released until Friday by Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer's office, which said Billhimer's predecessor had not released the state report even though they had been cleared to do so.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email email@example.com.