Veteran NJ cop dead after standoff with police

March 28, 2011 12:14:33 PM PDT
A veteran New Jersey police officer is dead following an armed standoff with authorities that ended early Monday morning.

The incident ended around 2 a.m., nearly 10 hours after it started. And when it was all over, 46-year-old Piscataway Police Detective Sergeant David Powell, a 21-year veteran, was dead.

While the results of an autopsy are pending, it has been preliminarily determined that Sgt. Powell was the victim of a gunshot wound. What's not clear is who fired the shot. Ballistics tests will be performed to determine the source of the shot.

SWAT teams were called in to the normally peaceful Parkside Avenue because of a beehive of police activity after Powell apparently barricaded himself inside his home late Sunday afternoon.

Police say he was home alone at the time and his family was not harmed. Several shots were heard throughout the day. It is still unclear what sparked the incident, but there are reports that Powell had some previous personal issues.

Neighbors knew the cop for years, and many are not surprised that things ended this way.

"To be quiet honest, this incident doesn't surprise me," neighbor Wendy Richards said. "What surprises me is that it took this long to get to this point. I really thought this would have blown up sooner."

Neighbors say Powell was recently going through a divorce from his second wife and had some emotional and legal problems. The drama Sunday forced residents to stay inside their homes as cops tried to negotiate a peaceful ending.

Shortly after 6:45 p.m., Powell stepped outside onto the front porch, armed with a 9 mm submachine gun. He fired several shots and police returned fire.

Through the evening hours, police kept trying to communicate with Powell but were unsuccessful. During the same period, they determined that there were no hostages, Kaplan said.

Around midnight, the New Jersey State Police Bomb Unit sent a robotic device to take pictures of the front porch and determined that it was safe to approach. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene at about 1:40 a.m.

Powell was a 22-year veteran of the Piscataway Police Department. He earned about $112,000 a year, according to state pension records.

As for residents who live in the area, this was a disturbing development.

"I know the cop," neighbor Jamal Taha said. "He was such a nice guy. I have a couple incidents. He's excellent. Very polite."

Some residents were forced out of their homes as authorities tried to resolve the dispute. Richards was still upset about being displaced.

"It never should've come to this," she said. "My children had to go through this. We were told to leave our home. I mean, to be told to get out now and not have any idea what is going on and have to go find someplace else to be, you know, in the middle of the night."

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office is participating in the investigation, which is standard procedure in fatal shootings involving law enforcement officers.

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