State clears N.J. cop in fatal shooting of fellow officer’s son

“Tim, put the gun down. Put it down, right now, I am begging you, please, put the gun down," an officer can be heard saying in the body camera footage


By Chris Sheldon
nj.com

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A state grand jury voted Monday not to file any criminal charges against a Morris Plains police officer who fatally shot a 24-year-old man who pointed an airsoft pistol at him in Morris Township in 2020, officials said.

Timothy O’Shea, 24, of Morris Township, died from his wounds when the officer, Sgt. Christopher Cornine, shot him twice during a confrontation at his home on Fairchild Avenue on July 14, 2020, according to a statement from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

Video footage of the confrontation shows the officers appear to know O’Shea, who is holding a pistol and bleeding from multiple self-inflicted wounds.
Video footage of the confrontation shows the officers appear to know O’Shea, who is holding a pistol and bleeding from multiple self-inflicted wounds. (YouTube/MorristownGreen)

O’Shea was the son of Kevin O’Shea, a retired Morris Township lieutenant who continues to work for the department as an executive administrative assistant, according to MorristownGreen.com.

Officers from the Morris Township, Morris Plains and Morristown police departments responded to the home at 4:14 p.m. after a person called 911 and reported a subject had cut himself and had a gun, the office said.

When police arrived they encountered O’Shea, who was holding a pistol and bleeding from his neck and wrists, the office said. Officers called for him to drop the weapon, but he did not comply.

Video footage of the confrontation shows the officers appear to know O’Shea.

“Tim, put the gun down,” an officer can be heard saying in body camera footage released by the office and posted on Youtube by Morristown Green. “Tim, don’t, what are you doing? Put the handgun down, Put it down, right now, I am begging you, please, put the gun down.”

Another officer pleaded, “Drop it, we’ll help you, Timmy drop it.”

O’Shea then raised the weapon and pointed it in the direction of Cornine, who fired four shots, striking O’Shea twice, investigators said. Officers attended to him until EMS rushed him to Morristown Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 5:41 p.m.

The pistol that was in his hand was recovered at the scene and determined to be a replica Beretta 9-millimeter airsoft pistol, the office said.

The Attorney General’s office investigated the case in accordance with a law requiring a state investigation of anyone fatally wounded by a police officer.

The investigation of the shooting included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of body-worn camera footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner, the office said.

After reviewing all the evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations Monday, and voted “no bill,” meaning a majority of grand jurors found that the actions of the officer who shot O’Shea were justified and no charges should be filed against him.

“An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm,” the office stated, quoting state policy.

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