MORGANVILLE - The New Jersey detective who was cleared of first-degree murder charges Wednesday says he had no choice but to use deadly force on a driver who had run him off the road.
Detective Joseph Walker was exonerated by a Maryland jury, after he says he was forced to fire his weapon, resulting in the death of 36-year-old Joseph Harvey on June 8, 2013.
Walker says Harvey forced him off the road, and that Harvey and his passenger then got out and approached the Walker family's minivan.
"I'm showing them my badge," Walker says. "I'm yelling at them. Just go back to your car. And they keep coming. They just keep coming."
Walker says the past year has been rough. He was suspended without pay from his job with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office while trying to defend himself against the first-degree murder charge.
He says his wife, Marie Elaine, took on extra nursing shifts to try to bring in more money.
Despite the support of his family, friends, and colleagues, Walker says he was weighed down with doubt about the outcome of the case.
"Every thought was, this is going to be the last time I do this," he says. "I enjoyed nothing for the past year."
Walker says he has fired his weapon in the line of duty, but had never shot anyone before that night.
"The irony is the one time I had to protect my family - people I love and who love me - this is how I got treated," he says.
Walker's supporters at the National Police Defense Foundation say they will ask for the Department of Justice to investigate how authorities in Maryland handled the detective's case.
"This particular prosecution sent another message- that if you're acting in good faith, and take appropriate police action, you could find yourself as a defendant in a first-degree murder charge," says Joseph Occhipinti.
Walker dismisses the Maryland prosecutor's description of his behavior as "aggressive," and says he is looking forward to returning to the job he loves.