FRANKLIN TWP. — An investigation by the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office finds no criminal act or wrong-doing by the Franklin Township police officer who fatally hit a 10-year-old boy Dec. 28.
Ptl. Nicholas Locilento was one of three township officers responding to a 7 p.m. call for help with an unruly juvenile, authorities said.
Locilento was traveling north on Delsea Drive/Route 47 near Paul and Elmer streets, where the posted speed limit is 50 mph, said authorities.
Investigators determined that three boys, ages 12, 10 and 9, were having a foot race on Elmer Street, headign toward Delsea Drive.
The oldest boy made it safely across Route 47 and yelled back that a car was coming, authorities said.
Matthew McCloskey, 10, ran into the road, turned toward the car and was hit by the patrol car, said authorities. The 9-year-old didn’t cross Route 47.
Locilento hit his brakes but couldn’t avoid hitting the child.
According to calculations made by motor vehicle crash reconstruction officers, Locilento’s cruiser was traveling at about 74 mph.
Locilento stopped and tried to render first aid, but the boy was pronounced dead at the scene, said authorities.
An autopsy determined Matthew McCloskey died from multiple injuries, and that the cause of death was accidental, authorities said.
Locilento was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure and was placed on immediate administrative leave. He was not under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, there was no evidence that he was using a cellphone, was sleep deprived or was otherwise distracted at the time of the accident, said authorities.
Under Franklin Township police Standard Operating Procedure 9, the call Locilento was answering was considered a non-emergency call requiring an immediate response to prevent incidents from escalating into situations that might require a higher level of police response, authorities said.
A patrol car’s emergency warning equipment is generally not used in a non-emergency call. None of the three officers responding had their lights or sirens activated.
State law generally recognizes that police officers in the performance of their duties may need to exceed posted speed limits, as long as they exercise due caution and do not recklessly disregard the safety of others, said authorities.
Investigators said Locilento was traveling on a dark stretch of wet roadway when he was suddenly confronted with a boy running into the path of his car, authorities said.
Based on applicable law, Locilento’s actions were not criminal in nature, said authorities. He did not disregard a known risk and it was not reasonable for him to foresee that he would encounter a 10-year-old running in the roadway, authorities said.
The investigation concludes the death of Matthew McCloskey was a tragic accident and not the result of criminal wrongdoing, said authorities.
Locilento may still face administrative review by the police department.
There may also be a review of local police procedure to determine whether changes should be made to require lights and sirens when exceeding the posted speed limit.
Authorities said a representative of the Prosecutor’s Office has met with the McCloskey family to advise them of the results of the investigation.