TOMS RIVER – A Tuckerton Borough Police Corporal was acquitted of official misconduct charges Monday.
Superior Court Judge Rochelle Gizinski said the state failed to show that Justin Cherry, of Beachwood, a corporal back in 2014, knowingly performed an unauthorized act while assisting two Barnegat Township officers attempting to subdue a woman allegedly resisting arrest.
On Jan. 29, 2014, two Barnegat officers were attempting to take 57-year-old township resident Wendy Tucker into custody.
Cherry had encountered Tucker in the borough, and knowing she didn’t have a license at the time, told her to take the bus home to Barnegat. However, he said he saw her driving her car 10 minutes later. He intended to ticket her at that point. Barnegat Police were alerted to expect Tucker, who has two prior convictions for eluding police.
Tucker parked her car near the Barnegat Police headquarters, where two township officers had their guns drawn and were ordering her out of the car. She refused. They were attempting to take her into custody when Cherry arrived. He released his K-9 partner, Gunner, to subdue her, and pulled the dog back when one Barnegat officer told him to.
The state had alleged Cherry released the dog onto Tucker after she was in custody, an allegation Gizinski said the evidence did not support.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said the state did not agree with the judge’s assessment, but respects the decision.
Tucker is serving two-years’ probation for eluding police and speeding in relation to this incident. How that the criminal portion is concluded, she and her attorney are moving forward with a federal lawsuit.
Cherry, who was suspended without pay, now hopes to collect back pay and return to police work.