A New Jersey State Police trooper admitted disabling a dashcam during an unwarranted traffic stop to make “unwanted advances” on a woman, authorities said.
Michael Patterson, 30, of Bayonne, pleaded guilty Monday to tampering with public records in the January 2020 incident on the New Jersey Turnpike, where he initially stopped the woman’s car and let her go with a warning, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck said.
Minutes later, as the woman got off the turnpike at exit 11 in Woodbridge, Patterson stopped her again.
Authorities said the state trooper pulled her over to make “unwanted advances” — even shutting down his digital in-vehicle recorder in an attempt to get away with it. Patterson was charged in June 2020.
“Patterson disabled the DIVR in his vehicle to prevent his conduct from being recorded during this stop,” Bruck said in a statement Tuesday. “The investigation revealed that Patterson subsequently put the victim in fear by following her to her home in his patrol vehicle.”
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors are recommending Patterson serve a year in state prison without the possibility of parole. He will also lose his job and be permanently barred from public employment, authorities said.
“We are committed to holding law enforcement officers accountable when they abuse their positions of trust,” Bruck said. “We owe it to the troopers, and to the public at large, to take strong action when individual officers betray those standards and engage in criminal conduct.”
Patterson was initially charged with stalking, tampering with public records and crime of deprivation of civil rights in the second traffic stop during the Jan. 28, 2020 incident.
Two years earlier, Patterson had a chance encounter with another driver – retired Piscataway police officer Matthew Bailly, who helped deliver the trooper with assistance from a doctor in 1991.
“Needless to say, Trooper Patterson, Matthew Bailly, and both of their families were ecstatic about the reunion,” New Jersey State Police said in a June 2018 Facebook post that was shared 11,000 times. “They all felt this story was so uplifting, it needed to be shared, and we agree!”
Patterson stopped Bailly for driving with tinted windows at the time before they realized their paths had crossed decades earlier when Bailly was a rookie cop. State police said Bailly wasn’t cited for the minor motor vehicle violation.
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