Jersey City cop charged with DWI in Bergen County after crashing vehicle into parked cars, police reports state
Jersey City police officer Carlos Melendez allegedly crashed his vehicle into two parked cars, blew a .15 percent BAC on the Alcotest 7110 and was in possession of his service weapon the night he was arrested for DWI in Wood-Ridge, NJ, according to police reports obtained by Real Jersey City.
Some younger Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) officers will ultimately follow in the footsteps of infamous department legends like Lt. Vincent Corso. However, many will not be privileged enough to receive a professional courtesy like previous generations – especially JCPD officer Carlos Melendez.
According to police reports obtained via an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request, Melendez, age 30, was charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) the night of April 28, 2018, in Wood-Ridge, NJ. The reports state the JCPD officer – who works as a clerk in the city’s North District – crashed his vehicle into two parked cars, blew a .15 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on the Alcotest 7110 and was in possession of his service weapon the night he was arrested by the Wood-Ridge Police Department (WRPD).
In his investigation report, at approximately 9:39 PM on the night of the incident, WRPD officer Robert Jones was dispatched to the scene of a reported motor vehicle crash. Upon arrival, Jones observed “two vehicles with heavy damage in the roadway” and spoke with a resident who informed the WRPD officer that he “overheard a crash outside of his home” on Wood-Ridge Street.
The Wood-Ridge resident told the officer he came outside after hearing the crash and discovered that “his daughter’s boyfriend’s vehicle,” which was parked in front of his residence, was involved in the incident. Another vehicle, registered to a resident of Rutherford, NJ, was also damaged by Melendez’s vehicle, according to a WRPD Crash Investigation Report.
Furthermore, the Wood-Ridge resident identified Melendez as the driver of the moving vehicle, stating to Jones that Melendez appeared “messed up” after he spoke with him – prompting the WRPD officer to request a second officer at the scene.
Per Jones’ report, the officer then spoke with Melendez, who claimed he was “texting on his cell phone and looked down” at the time of the crash. The WRPD officer claims he detected an odor of alcohol from Melendez’s breath and asked if he had been drinking. Melendez replied that he had “one beer” to Jones, according to details from the officer’s report.
At that point Jones requested to perform “psycho physical tests,” which Melendez agreed to. The WRPD officer claims Melendez did not perform the tests correctly, which is partially supported by poor quality dashboard camera footage obtained via OPRA. According to Jones’ report, Melendez complained “the tests and the road was uneven,” prompting them to move to the sidewalk until a supervisor advised Jones to transport Melendez to headquarters because of heavy rain. VIDEO BELOW:
Prior to being transported to WRPD headquarters, Melendez informed the officers that he himself was a police officer and that his service weapon was in his vehicle’s glove compartment. The service weapon, one magazine with thirteen rounds and a holster were seized by the WRPD and eventually transferred to Lt. George Rotondo of the JCPD’s Internal Affairs Unit.
After arriving at WRPD headquarters, Melendez was still unable to perform the psycho physical tests correctly. After Jones read Melendez the constitutional rights form, the off-duty JCPD officer waived his rights in writing. The WRPD officer then read the “Standard Statement for motor vehicle operators,” after which Melendez agreed to provide samples of his breath and signed the “Standard Statement form indicating his intentions.”
Prior to administering the Alcotest 7110, Jones claims in his report he observed Melendez “on the bench for twenty minutes in effort to allow any raw alcohol to dissipate in his mouth.” The initial test performed by the WRPD officer “indicated minimum volume not achieved,” yet, after a second test, Melendez provided two samples revealing a .15 percent BAC.
Melendez was ultimately issued two summonses – one for DWI and another for careless driving. He was given an initial court date of May 17, 2018, which has been adjourned to July 19, 2018, according to a Wood-Ridge official. The Last Drink Location Report, generated by the WRPD, indicates that Zeppelin Hall – a popular beer garden and restaurant in Downtown Jersey City – was the place where Melendez’s last drink was consumed.
Of note, Melendez was released to Chenel Torres, the widow of deceased JCPD officer Ramon Torres – who passed away one month prior to the Wood-Ridge incident. Melendez was the cousin of Ramon Torres, who he described as a brother in an Instagram post following the tragic death. Melendez is also the nephew of Lt. Cristino “Chris” Felix, the North District Executive Officer and father of Ramon Torres.
Multiple sources have indicated to Real Jersey City that Melendez is considered a favorite of Captain Edgar Martinez, commander of the JCPD’s North District. It’s unclear what, if any, departmental actions Melendez may be facing.
Real Jersey City’s OPRA request related to the incident was initially denied by Wood-Ridge on May 11, 2018, because the reports/dashboard camera recordings were “not a public record as it is an ongoing investigation.” Following a complaint filed in Bergen County Superior Court by attorney Walter M. Luers, Wood-Ridge immediately provided responsive records – which a borough official claimed was mistakenly not released upon conclusion of the investigation.
Jersey City spokesperson Kimberly Scalcione was not reached for comment on this story. It’s considered official Fulop Administration policy to ignore this journalist.
I appreciate that @JC_Gov Public Safety Director James Shea is getting straight to the point, but, for the record, I do write very polite emails to @KimWallaceJC. #JerseyCity pic.twitter.com/VWTJKPs0gf
— Real Jersey City (@RealJerseyCity) March 4, 2018