N.J. Police Officer Loses Job After Overdosing on Heroin in Patrol Car

KC Baker
On-Duty N.J. Cop Who OD'd on Heroin Loses Job

An on-duty New Jersey police officer who was found unresponsive in his patrol car after overdosing on heroin in April has pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated — and lost his job, say prosecutors.

On Friday, Matthew Ellery, 29, of Middlesex, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled dangerous substance and driving while intoxicated, Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor announced in a press release.

Under the plea agreement, Ellery agreed to apply for admission into an alternative sentencing program in drug court that would send him to prison from three to five years if he fails to successfully complete the program.

As part of the plea deal, his driver’s license has been suspended for seven months. He also had to forfeit his position as a police officer with the Franklin Township Police Department.

Ellery was sworn in as an officer with the department in August 2016 and was assigned to the patrol division, Franklin Township Police Department spokesman Lt. Philip Rizzo tells PEOPLE.

He will be sentenced on Aug. 23, 2019.

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On April 7, just after 1 a.m., the Franklin Township Police Department dispatched an officer to find Ellery when he failed to respond to radio calls.

The officer traveled to Ellery’s last known location and found his patrol car parked in the driveway of a local business and found Ellery unresponsive in the driver’s seat.

“The responding officer, who is also an EMT, determined that defendant Ellery was experiencing an opiate overdose because he was cyanotic, had no carotid pulse, and was not breathing,” the release says.

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The officer removed Ellery from the patrol car and gave him two doses of Narcan, a medicine used to stop an overdose, enabling Ellery to regain consciousness.

He was then taken to a local hospital.