A New Jersey grand jury declined to indict two police officers that shot and killed a retired Army major in the summer of 2021 who aimed a handgun at them, according to a statement from the state attorney general’s office.
Newton, New Jersey police officers Steven Kneidl and Garrett Armstrong fatally shot Gulia Dale III, 61, outside his home on July 4, 2021.
Police body camera footage captured the incident. The state attorney general’s office released the footage about a month later.
Following an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, the state grand jury voted Feb. 6 to not pursue charges against the officers.
The investigation found that three uniformed officers from the Newton Police Department arrived at Dale’s residence around 9:30 p.m., according to the statement. They were called to the home by Dale’s wife, Karen, over fears he was suicidal, she told the New Jersey Herald.
Footage shows the officers giving Dale verbal commands to get out of his red pickup truck. After stepping out, opening the rear side door of his vehicle and briefly leaning inside, Dale subsequently got back in the driver’s seat before getting out once again. He pointed a handgun at the officers before they opened fire.
Officers rendered medical aid until emergency medical personnel arrived. Officials pronounced Dale dead at approximately 9:46 p.m., according to the statement, adding that a .45-caliber handgun was later recovered near the former soldier.
Dale had plans to retire two months later from his government civilian job as an equal opportunity specialist for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon.
The retired major had served three tours in Iraq and was deployed on 9/11, his family told the New Jersey Herald. His obituary noted that he served in both the Army and the National Guard and that he separated fully from service in 2004.
“My family is very disappointed that the grand jury chose not to indict,” Valerie Cobbertt, Dale’s sister, told nj.com, adding the family is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court. Although the family said they do not know what led to Dale’s behavior, holiday fireworks may have triggered the veteran’s post-traumatic stress.
The news of the officers being cleared of any crime comes as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced an expansion of a state pilot program that pairs law enforcement with mental health professionals.
“This proposed investment and the expansion of the program will help our efforts to enhance law enforcement’s servicing of neighborhoods and will strengthen the bonds between our officers and the communities they serve,” the governor said in a statement.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media