Toms River police officers cleared in March shooting death
Toms River police officers whose bullets killed a township resident during a struggle last March were legally justified, according to the New Jersy Attorney General's Office.
Christopher Apostolus died several hours after the shooting in his Silver Ridge apartment, during which he attacked officers and tried to grab a service weapon, according to Toms River police.
According to information filed regarding the case:
Officers were summoned to the apartment complex for a wellness check on March 10, but could not find Apostolus, and could not find him during subsequent visits to his dwelling on March 11, 12 and 13.
On March 14, two uniformed officers returned, announcing their presence but receiving no response. They obtained a key and did not find Apostolus inside, but found warm food in the kitchen and a television set operating, and saw his car outside the apartment.
Re-entering, officers searched the balcony and other spots. Officer Mark DeGrandis entered the bathroom and approached a closet door on the far end, that hadn't been checked in the initial search. Notifying Officer Francis Bopp, DeGrandis placed his hand on the doorknob.
The door burst open, and Apostolus flew out screaming, and grabbed DeGrandis by the neck while reaching for his gun.
DeGrandis fired three times, hitting Apostolus twice. He later testified that he feared being overpowerered, and feared the threat of he and/or his partner dying by gunfire.
The struggle forced the bathroom door to shut, leaving Bopp outside of it, hearing the scream and the gunshot. Pushing the door ajar, Bopp fired once, hitting Apostolus, and ending the confrontation. Bopp also testified that he feared for his and his parther's life if Apostoluis wrested control of a gun.
Apostolus was prounced dead at 1:06 PM. The autopsy on March 16 concluded that the causse of death was multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide.
A detective with the Ocean County Prosecutor's office spoke with the Silver Ridge property manager and an assistant. The assistant related that Apostolus had asked whether his brother would be allowed to retrieve items from his apartment in the event of his death, and had been told that it wouldn't be permitted.
The assistant said that Apostolus returned a short while later, bearing a notarized letter to give his brother permission to enter the apartment in the event of his sudden death. The property manager indicated that it had the overtone of a suicide note.