Hudson County, NJ - Hudson County Superior Court Judge Martha Royster doesn't appear to think that attacking police is all-too serious, and she harshly criticized officers for shooting a man who tried to kill them.
According to NJ.com, at a hearing on Friday to discuss if Mark Highsmith should be allowed into a pretrial intervention program (PTI), Judge Martha Royster took the opportunity to blast police over the incident where Highsmith was arrested.
On July 15th, 2014, at around 2:30 AM, officers saw Mark Highsmith carrying a fence post near a memorial to cop-killer Lawrence Campbell. Officers ordered Highsmith to drop the fence post. Instead, he threw it though a patrol car window, hitting an officer in the head. Highsmith then rushed forward, jumped onto the running board, and then grabbed for the officer's gun. The officer shot Highsmith through the patrol car door.
Highsmith then ran away with his hands not visible and refusing orders to stop, officers shot him again.
Mark Highsmith survived and was charged in the attack.
"What is clear, is that the reaction of the officer, whatever was occurring, is to shoot the defendant through a door," Judge Royster said. "He was unarmed and recognizably unarmed."
"It disturbs me that every time we have misconduct by police officers or inappropriate behavior or rash judgments that the response is that they are acting under pressure," the judge said. "You are trained. You chose the job when you took it. You are supposed to be learned on how to defuse situations. You are supposed to understand how to deal with the community. You have training on how to deal with unarmed individuals and armed individuals."
Highsmith's defense attorney said that he was upset that officers dismantled the memorial to Lawrence Campbell. Campbell murdered Jersey City Officer Melvin Santiago after waiting in ambush for officers after robbing a Walgreens. Campbell was shot dead by other officers. After the shooting, Campbell's wife expressed that she was upset that he didn't take more officers down with him.
According to Highsmith's attorney, other officers spit on the memorial to Campbell and dismantled it. Judge Martha Royster had more harsh words about the officers disrespecting cop-killers just because the person they killed happened to be a police officer, and then that police officer just happened to die for some reason.
"The same way that it means that just because you have one African-American male who shot someone who happened to be a police officer who ends up dying, doesn't mean that you should be putting every black male on the corner on their knees, searching them and doing things like spitting on things and disrespecting members of the community."
Judge Royster also suggested that the attempt to murder officers was little more than a property crime, "There's nothing right about an individual hurling any kind of object at a police vehicle. To describe it as an assault on both officers is a stretch."
In the end, Judge Royster refused to overturn the state's decision to bar Highsmith from the PTI program, which would have cleared his criminal history.
After all of the statements made by Judge Martha Royster, it appears that she would be seriously prejudiced against police in any hearing, and it's hard to believe that she might be able to do her job in an unbiased manner.
Do you think that Judge Royster's statements should leave her ineligible to rule on cases involving police officers? We'd like to hear what you think. Please let us know in the comments.