YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack this afternoon reminded a local high school teacher who was drunk when his car slammed into a police cruiser, critically injuring Bergen County Police Officer Daniel Breslin on Route 46 in Lodi last April, that he’d have to serve nearly six years in prison without parole if he accepts a plea deal from prosecutors.
Little else happened during the afternoon status conference for Michael Ettz apart from minor procedural issues and scheduling. Both sides are due back March 9.
Prosecutors have said they have video evidence — one showing a vehicle driven by Ettz ramming Breslin’s cruiser and the other Ettz drinking at a bar before the April 19 crash.
They were also still mulling whether to call an alcohol-influence expert who would testify to how much Ettz was influenced when he plowed his car into the rear of the officer’s SUV as he stopped to help a colleague.
In exchange for a guilty plea, they’ve offered a seven-year deal — 85% of which he’d have to serve under the No Early Release Act.
Meanwhile, Ettz remained free on $150,000 bail.
“You have to consider any offer,” Ettz’s attorney, Brian Neary, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “But we’re ready to defend the case.”
A grand jury in Hackensack indicted Ettz in August on charges of aggravated assault, DWI assault by auto and leaving the scene of a crash with serious injuries.
Breslin, meanwhile, was continuing physical rehabilitation.
The married father of two returned to his Fairfield home in August after spending several months in a hospital and rehab facility.
He has been tackling outpatient rehabilitation — including physical and speech therapy — with great determination, a testament to his courage and personality, those who know him said.
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Breslin had stopped his SUV in the right lane of Route 46 to block traffic from hitting a county police car stopped on the right shoulder, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said at the time.
The other officer was having radio problems, the prosecutor explained. Ettz’s four-door 2012 Ford Fusion slammed into Breslin’s SUV, trapping the officer, who had to be extricated, the prosecutor said.
Ettz then tried to make a run for it after being pulled from his car but was caught by a Lodi police sergeant, he said.
Breslin sustained a “significant head injury” and was brought to surgery with a skull fracture and bleeding after a CAT scan was done following the 1:50 a.m. crash, Molinelli said.
He also sustained several broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
Records show Ettz had his license suspended for 240 days for a DWI conviction out of Clifton.
STORY/PHOTOS: CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter Mary K. Miraglia
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