Should NJ Cop Have Given Couple Rushing to Hospital a Speeding Ticket?
HOWELL — A Lakewood man rushing to get his expectant wife to the hospital was pulled over by a township police officer and given a ticket for speeding.
The man called the experience a “harrowing ordeal,” saying the officer ignored the couple’s pleas.
But the township Police Department has defended the officer and released bodycam video of the stop. In a statement this week, the department called the interaction by both the officer and the couple “polite and respectful.”
The couple was pulled over 11:57 p.m. Nov. 14 on Squankum Road between Maxim and Old Tavern roads. Police said the car was traveling 78 mph in a 50 mph zone.
In a post Monday on The Lakewood Scoop website, which described the incident as a “horrifying experience,” the man says he explained to the officer that his wife was in “advanced labor.”
"I tried explaining the severity of the situation, but he cut me off without inquiring in what condition my wife is, and just asked for license and registration. We pleaded with him to please make it fast as we are in an emergency, but he answered curtly, sit tight."
The man says his wife gave birth at the hospital about 20 minutes after the officer let them go.
Police say the traffic stop lasted 9 minutes and 29 seconds and that the officer handed over the speeding ticket 6 minutes after the car was pulled over. The department’s statement blames the man for prolonging the stop by asking who he could call to “explain the situation.”
In the video, the officer asks the couple if they would like him to call an ambulance, but they decline several times.
The couple asks if the officer could escort them to the hospital, but Officer Anthony Marotto tells them, “ No, we don’t do that. That is what ambulances are for.”
The department’s statement says it would be against its policies for a police vehicle to escort a car to a hospital.
“We certainly understand how stressful the moments leading up to birth can be, especially on a woman, and we commend them for their respectful demeanor under the circumstances," police said in a statement this week. "However, the officer acted appropriately and any suggestion that the officer’s conduct was improper, unprofessional or inhumane simply contradicts the video evidence.”