ONLY ON CVP: A pair of videos are among the key evidence against 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 six months ago, a prosecutor said in court today.
One shows a vehicle driven by Michael Ettz ramming Breslin’s cruiser, and the other Ettz drinking at a bar before the April 19 crash, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney said.
“The videos actually exist,” Delaney said. “There is a video that captures the crash. There is a video from a bar earlier in the night.”
Ettz was brought to court in Hackensack for arraignment today on an indictment returned by a grand jury in August charging him with aggravated assault, DWI assault by auto and leaving the scene of a crash with serious injuries.
On one side of the courtroom behind him sat several supporters. On the other side were many of Breslin’s family members, friends and colleagues, including Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins.
“I spoke with Danny’s wife today,” Higgins told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The good news is that he is still with us. “He’s doing his rehabilitation five days a week, but it’s still a very tough road. He had a life-changing incident that night, and it’s affected everyone.”
Breslin, a married 39-year-old father of two, returned to his Fairfield home in August after spending several months in a hospital and rehab facility, Higgins said.
He has been tackling outpatient rehabilitation — including physical and speech therapy — with great determination, a testament to his courage and personality, the chief said.
A recent fundraiser took in $100,000, which Higgins said reflected the love and respect that citizens have not only for Breslin but for all law enforcement and the selfless work that police do.
“As great as that was, it’s a drop in the bucket against what he and his family needs for the rest of his life,” the chief said. “That’s why that fundraiser was just the start.
“We will never, ever, ever stop.”
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Ettz, 36, shifted uneasily from one foot to the other in court, moving his nervously and pursuing his lips.
Defense attorney Brian Neary entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of the suspended Lodi High School teacher.
Ettz remained free on $150,000 bail, which he posted after being released from the hospital following the crash.
If convicted of the charges at a trial, he would face up to 15 years in state prison, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.
Breslin had stopped his SUV in the right lane of Route 46, with its lights flashing, to block traffic from hitting a county police car stopped on the right shoulder, 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, he said, but was caught by a Lodi police sergeant.
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.
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