BERKELEY – The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office determined that an officer who shot a knife-wielding man was justified in his use of force.
The incident happened on August 1, 2021. Stephen M. Carroccia, who was 36 at the time, was at his Stanford Drive home in the Silver Ridge Park East community. A relative called 911, telling police he had been behaving erratically, wandering around neighbors’ yards.
Three Berkeley officers arrived, and they were warned by dispatch that he had “pulled a knife out of a pile of laundry in the past.”
Police reported the events of that morning, and the prosecutor’s office did independent interviews with three neighbors, the woman who called 911, and the man who was shot. The officers were wearing body cameras.
The three officers met with the relative who was sitting on a front porch. Carroccia came out of the door “noticeably agitated.” He questioned why police were there and demanded to know who called 911. The relative told officers that Carroccia had physically assaulted her in the past and worried about the situation escalating.
The officers tried to de-escalate the situation, but it was unsuccessful. Carroccia flinched at one of the officers as if he was going to attack, but only yelled in his face.
Officer 1 was between Carroccia and the relative, with Carroccia in the doorway of the home. He then brought out a 16” kitchen knife and aimed it at the officer’s neck and head. The officer pushed him away and ordered him to drop the knife.
Carroccia lunged again and the officer used his taser. At the same time, a different officer fired three shots into his upper body.
The three officers all performed first aid before the Berkeley Township First Aid Squad arrived to take him to a hospital.
There were no other injuries.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said his office concluded that the use of force was legally justified. Further, it was not necessary to present this matter to the Grand Jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The Attorney General’s Office agreed.
Carroccia was indicted for Attempted Murder, Possession of Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons. He has been held in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest.
Charges are merely accusations until proven in a court of law.