TOMS RIVER – Two police officers were cleared in the shooting of a man who threatened them with an object that turned out to be a television remote while attempting a “suicide by cop.”
The case stemmed from the Oct. 16, 2016 shooting of Russell Bauer. At 6:42 p.m., a 911 operator received a phone call from a man identified as “Russ.” He told the operator that a man dressed in a black t-shirt, hat, blue jeans and boots was walking in the area of Christian Court with a gun.
Three officers responded to the scene. They encountered a man that fit the description near the intersection of Christian Court and Sand Creek Lane. He had his hand behind his back and was “standing in an assertive stance,” according to police.
Officers commanded him to show his hands and he refused. Then, he quickly swung his hand from behind his back and pointed a black object in the direction of the officers. Believing it was a gun, two officers fired on him and hit him twice. The black object turned out to be a television remote.
The man was soon identified as Russell Bauer. On his ambulance ride to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, he informed medics and two other officers in the ambulance that he had called police with the intention of committing suicide by cop.
After he was treated for his injuries, detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed him at the hospital. He informed officers he was living in Levittown, PA. He met a woman online, and moved in with her at a Seaside Heights motel. The situation did not work out, and he found himself homeless for a bit before winding up at the Red Carpet Inn in Toms River.
He further told officers that his original intention was to overdose on heroin but he did not have the money for it. So, he walked more than 6 miles to his ex-girlfriend’s neighborhood to have police end his life.
Bauer then corroborated every detail of the police officers’ testimony, but from his own point of view.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office investigated the use of fatal force, even though Bauer survived the shooting, and established that it was legally justified. Then, the Office of the Attorney General reviewed the case, and issued a statement that it agreed that it was justified.
Meanwhile, Bauer was charged with creating a false public alarm and was jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail. The state recommended he receive a mental health evaluation and 180 days in jail as a condition of his probation. On June 9, he was sentenced to two years of probation with mental health counseling and given credit for 200 days of jail time.