A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Keron Roundtree, 23, of Trenton, New Jersey, who was injured in a crash as he accelerated away from Bordentown Township Police Officer Keith Alexander after an attempted traffic stop on October 27, 2020. Mr. Roundtree succumbed to those injuries on November 17, 2020, at which time the investigation transferred from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office to the Attorney General’s Office, pursuant to P.L. 2019, c.1.
The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents called to serve on the grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive” issued in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure that these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, and with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive.
The investigation included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of video footage and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations yesterday July 11, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded that no criminal charges should be filed against the officer involved in the fatal encounter.
According to the investigation, on the night of October 27, 2020, Officer Alexander was on patrol on Route 206 Southbound in Bordentown in a marked police vehicle when he saw a Nissan Maxima traveling southbound in the left lane brake abruptly. The car, which was driven by Mr. Roundtree, resumed traveling southbound. While stopped at a traffic light, Officer Alexander observed the Maxima’s temporary Pennsylvania license plate and suspected it was fictitious. Officer Alexander then followed Mr. Roundtree and observed him commit several motor vehicle infractions, including an illegal U-turn.
At approximately 8:51 p.m., about two minutes after he began following the Maxima, Officer Alexander activated his overhead lights and siren to make a motor vehicle stop. At that point, Mr. Roundtree failed to obey a stop sign and sped off down Route 206 South, traveling at speeds that reached in excess of 100 mph. Approximately one minute later, and without coming into contact with another car, Mr. Roundtree drove onto the shoulder of the highway to maneuver around other cars, swerved back onto the road, lost control of the car, and crashed into the woods by the side of Route 206. The car traveled into and out of the woods, coming to rest on the right shoulder of Route 206 Southbound.
Officer Alexander exited his vehicle and located the Maxima, which was heavily damaged. Both Mr. Roundtree and an adult male passenger were stuck inside. Two bystanders assisted Officer Alexander in removing and rendering aid to both. Once ambulances arrived, the occupants of the Maxima were transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, N.J. Mr. Roundtree remained in the hospital until life support was removed on November 17, 2020, when he was pronounced deceased. The passenger was admitted for treatment and released approximately one week later.
The investigation later revealed that the Maxima had been stolen from an apartment complex in Philadelphia, and the temporary license plate on the car had been forged.
A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to 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. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.
A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.
At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.