The Attorney General’s Office today released a 911 call and video recordings from four police body-worn cameras related to the death of Richard Belline, 37, of Evesham, N.J., who died on Sept. 6, 2020, after he was arrested by Voorhees Township police officers at the Voorhees Town Center.
The death remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). However, the recordings are being released pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” which governs both use-of-force and death in custody investigations in New Jersey. The Directive requires that such records, if requested, be released to the public once the initial phase of the investigation is substantially complete, which is the case in this matter.
Prior to today’s release, investigators first discussed the matter and provided copies of the recordings to Mr. Belline’s representative and relatives for their review.
Overview of Events Prior to Mr. Belline’s Death
At approximately 2:54 p.m., on September 6, 2020, a uniformed Voorhees Township Police Department officer in a marked patrol car observed Mr. Belline drive at a high rate of speed through the parking lot of the Voorhees Town Center shopping mall and crash into a curb. As the officer approached the crashed vehicle, Mr. Belline exited the vehicle and ran from the officer. After a brief foot pursuit, the officer apprehended Mr. Belline and restrained him. Backup officers arrived and one assisted in handcuffing Mr. Belline. A K-9 officer also arrived on the scene, but the dog was not deployed.
After his arrest, Mr. Belline said he did not feel well, requested help, and admitted to using methamphetamine. Officers requested an expedited ambulance, which arrived within minutes and transported Mr. Belline, who was conscious at that time, to Jefferson Stratford Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased at 3:45 p.m. A bag containing suspected methamphetamine was found in the subject’s vehicle.
The recordings are posted online. Click here for recordings.
The Attorney General’s Office previously released the identities of the Voorhees Township police officers involved in the incident. Officer Thomas Bordi is the officer who apprehended Mr. Belline. The other officers at the scene were Officers Michael Marchitto, Kenneth Fowlkes, and Jack Kluk.
The investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L.2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time. Under state law and the Independent Prosecutor Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.
As indicated above, this investigation is being conducted in compliance with procedures and requirements established in the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued by Attorney General Grewal in December 2019 and outlines a 10-step process for conducting independent investigations of use-of-force and death-in-custody incidents in compliance with state law. The directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are done fully, fairly, and independently of any potential bias. A copy of the Directive is available at this link:
https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/2019-4_Independent_Prosecutor_Directive.pdf, and a summary of that 10-step process is available at this link: