NJ cop charged with killing Monroe man testifies

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The defense rested its case Wednesday afternoon in the manslaughter trial of a New Jersey parks police officer accused of fatally shooting a Native-American man from Monroe.

In the course of the proceedings, Police Officer Chad Walder took the stand, claiming he acted in self-defense. Walder said the victim, Emil Mann, was reaching for Walder's gun and screaming "shoot me."

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor James Santulli took out a tape measure and pressed Walder on the distance between him and Mann when the shots were fired. Walder said their hands were touching when he fired the first shot, and that he and Mann were about 6 or 7 feet apart.

"I didn't have much time before he had a hold of my gun," Walder said.

The incident happened in April 2006 at Ringwood State Park in Mahwah, N. J., where Mann, a Ramapough Indian, attended a cookout with family and friends. An argument ensued between Mann and Walder over the allegedly illegal use of an ATV. Authorities say that's when Walder killed Mann.

"It's just so scary when it's for real," Walder said. " I mean, no matter how many times you train, when somebody's trying to kill you, I can't even explain it."

Closing arguments in the trial are set to be presented Thursday. The jury is expected to begin deliberating the case early next week. If convicted on manslaughter charges, Walder faces 10 years in prison.

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