Officer in Fatal Crash Not Criminally Charged by State Grand Jury in Hamilton Township

A state grand jury has announced their decision to not press any criminal charges related to the death of Francis Delacruz Abad, 21, of Trenton, N.J., who was fatally injured when fleeing from Hamilton Township Police Detective Brian Davis on May 25, 2021. Despite Davis’s attempt to pull over Mr. Abad while he was operating a scooter, Mr. Abad collided with another vehicle, leading to his death two days later.

The death of Mr. Abad was thoroughly investigated by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019. The OPIA has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) in July 2021 that require these grand jury presentations to be conducted in a neutral, objective manner with appropriate transparency regarding the process, in line with the directive.

The investigation included interviews with witnesses, photographs, review of body-worn camera footage and medical examiner autopsy results. This evidence, along with video footage of the incident aftermath, was presented to a state grand jury. After hearing the testimony and reviewing the evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on Monday, May 8, 2023, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded no criminal charges should be filed against Detective Davis.

According to the investigation, the tragic incident occurred on May 25, 2021, near the intersection of Route 33 and Whitehorse-Mercerville Road just after 9 p.m. Detective Davis, in an unmarked police vehicle, attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop, but Mr. Abad continued traveling westbound on Route 33 and collided with a Dodge Caravan attempting to turn left into the Mercerville Shopping Center from Route 33 eastbound. Mr. Abad was thrown from the scooter and struck the van’s windshield. He was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he died at approximately 3 p.m. on May 27.

P.L. 2019, c.1, a 2019 law, requires the Attorney General’s Office to investigate any individual’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer in their official capacity or while in custody. It also mandates presenting all investigations to a grand jury to determine if evidence supports returning an indictment against the involved officer or officers. The grand jury is instructed on the elements of the potential criminal offenses, including criminal homicide offenses that could be filed, and as required by law, the grand jury is instructed on self-defense and various legal justifications.

There were no actual or potential conflicts of interest involving any individual assigned to the investigation, as a conflicts check was conducted per the Independent Prosecutor Directive. Prior to presenting the investigation to the grand jury, OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher reviewed it in line with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

At the investigation’s conclusion, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and the SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should refer to the appropriate law enforcement agency for an administrative review in line with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes necessary actions to ensure completion within a reasonable timeline, and appropriate steps are taken based on the review results.

Residents of New Jersey can access the Independent Prosecutor Directive on the Attorney General’s website, which contains information about the ways fatal police encounters are investigated in the state. Additionally, for further information regarding the incident, pictures are available on the website.

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