A veteran New Jersey police officer who violated a restraining order was shot and killed during a nine-hour standoff at his home, and authorities were trying to determine whether he killed himself or was hit by fellow officers.
An autopsy was being performed Monday on the body of Sgt. David Powell, a 22-year veteran of the Piscataway Police Department. Ballistics tests also were being done to determine what gun fired the fatal shot.
Powell's standoff began shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sunday when the 46-year-old off-duty officer refused to go to police headquarters to respond to a report that he had violated a restraining order earlier in the day, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
His mother, Diane, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that her son had just gone through a difficult divorce. Neighbors said his wife and daughter had moved out of the house.
Shortly before 4:30 p.m., Powell told police he was holding hostages.
Piscataway police went to the residential neighborhood and summoned the Middlesex County SWAT team. They cordoned off surrounding streets and talked with Powell, who refused to surrender and threatened to kill any officer who approached the house.
Shortly after 6:45 p.m., Powell stepped outside onto the front porch, armed with a 9 mm submachine gun. He fired several shots and police returned fire.
Through the evening hours, police kept trying to communicate with Powell but were unsuccessful. During the same period, they determined that there were no hostages, Kaplan said.
Around midnight, the New Jersey State Police Bomb Unit sent a robotic device to take pictures of the front porch and determined that it was safe to approach. Powell was pronounced dead at the scene at about 1:40 a.m.
Powell had been a police officer since 1989 and earned about $112,000 a year, according to state pension records.
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office is participating in the investigation, which is standard procedure in fatal shootings involving law enforcement officers.