Prosecutor To Probe Turnpike Shootings Four New York Men Were Wounded When The Officers Fired 11 Shots At A Van After A Traffic Stop.

Posted: May 01, 1998

A special prosecutor has been appointed by New Jersey Attorney General Peter Verniero to review an April 23 turnpike shooting by two state troopers who opened fire after a driver reportedly injured one of the officers with his van.

Burlington County Executive Assistant Prosecutor James J. Gerrow Jr. was named a special deputy attorney general to review whether the use of force by state police Troopers James Kenna and John Hogan was appropriate.

The two officers fired a total of 11 shots into a van driven by Keshon L. Moore, 22, of New York, who had been pulled over for speeding. Hogan was struck by the van when it suddenly shifted into reverse. Two of Moore's passengers remain hospitalized for gunshot wounds.

Mercer County Prosecutor Daniel G. Giaquinto would normally head the review because the shooting occurred in Mercer County, in Washington Township near Exit 7A of the New Jersey Turnpike. But in an April 27 letter, Giaquinto notified the attorney general that as a private attorney he represented Trooper Kenna's parents in two real estate closings. Verniero said he wanted to avoid appearance of a conflict of interest, and appointed Gerrow the following day.

Gerrow will determine whether to present the case to a grand jury. Kenna, a trooper for three years, and Hogan, an officer for five years, have been placed on administrative duty, which is routine whenever an officer fires a weapon on duty, said state police spokesman John Hagerty.

According to police accounts, the troopers clocked Moore's vehicle traveling at 74 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone at 10:56 p.m. on April 23. The officers pulled the van over. As Kenna approached the passenger side of the 1997 Dodge van, Moore shifted into reverse and struck Hogan on the leg. Kenna fired three shots into the van.

Moore continued in reverse across the turnpike's southbound lanes, striking a 1988 Honda Accord that crashed into the center wall and burst into flames. A Roebling couple in the Honda was not injured.

When Moore shifted the van back into forward and headed toward the troopers, both officers opened fire.

``I thank the Lord that nobody got killed,'' Moore's father, Rodney Moore, said earlier this week.

Keshon Moore was treated at a local hospital for knee injuries and released. One of his passengers, Rayshawn Brown, 20, of New York, was released Saturday from Helen Fuld Medical Center, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the right forearm and a graze wound to the chest.

The other two passengers, Danny Reyes, 20, and Leroy Grant, 23, both of New York, remained hospitalized yesterday at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center in Camden. Grant was wounded in the right shoulder, right triceps and left knee. Reyes was wounded in the right forearm, right thigh and back.

Reyes disputed the police version of events, according to his attorney, David Ironman of New York.

In Reyes' account, Moore was not speeding when the troopers pulled him over, Ironman said. The attorney said Moore was trying to put the van in park, and was rolling backwards but not accelerating when Kenna opened fire.

Moore was heading with his friends to North Carolina for a basketball tryout and was driving a rented van, Ironman said. Moore's license had been suspended since 1995 because he had not paid fines on vehicle violations.

Ironman said Reyes was in the front passengers' seat and was shot four times. He said a police search of the van for drugs or guns turned up ``only smelly socks.''

Both Hogan and Kenna had been involved in previous shootings while patrolling the turnpike. The state police and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office are investigating a March 18 incident in which Kenna opened fire on a driver seeking to steal his patrol car, said state police spokesman Hagerty. No one was injured in that incident.

Peter Loriquet, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said a grand jury typically reviews cases in which there are disputed facts. ``The entire factual circumstances that happened the night of the shooting will be heard,'' he said.

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