A Berkeley Township man has been indicted on 15 counts ranging from aggravated assault to eluding after a November incident where he was accused of beating a man with a tire iron and injuring four Berkeley Township police officers after a high-speed pursuit.
Kenneth W. Morris was indicted Thursday by an Ocean County grand jury in Toms River in the Nov. 27 incident. Police said then they responded to a report that Morris had hit a man in the head with a tire iron outside a Brennan Concourse home and then fled in his pickup truck.
Berkeley Patrolman Patrick Stesner spotted the truck as it was headed south on Harbor Inn Road. Stesner tried to pull Morris over, but Morris fled. He drove through Lacey and Beachwood, then down Route 9 at a high rate of speed through Berkeley before he returned to Brennan Concourse, police said.
Police officers were stationed at the residence, so Morris drove down Brennan Concourse toward Berkeley Island County Park. The gates were locked. Morris did a U-turn and sped back along Brennan Concourse, ramming the cars of Stesner, Michael O'Connor and David Moody and Sgt. Peter Larocca, police said.
Stesner, Moody and O'Connor suffered neck and back injuries, police said. Larocca was treated for a facial injury at the scene, police said.
Morris was indicted on three counts of second-degree aggravated assault and second-degree aggravated assault while eluding resulting in bodily injury, for ramming the cars of Stesner, Moody and O'Connor.
He was also indicted on two counts of third-degree aggravated assault, for hitting Larocca and in the assault of Antonio Aviles, whom Morris is accused of hitting with a tire iron; two counts of third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and two of unlawful possession of a weapon, for the tire iron and the 1993 Ford Lightning pickup truck, and counts of criminal mischief, for the damage to the police cars, eluding, and resisting arrest.
Police Chief Karin T. DiMichele praised the police officers for their restraint in handling the situation. Morris told the officers he had a gun before he was apprehended.
"This could easily have been a deadly force incident," said DiMichele, who was on the scene that night. "When I got there, I was just thankful to see them walking."
DiMichele headed out to Brennan Concourse around 3 a.m. after being notified that Berkeley police officers were pursuing a man who was already too familiar to them.
Morris was the same man who barricaded himself in his Northern Boulevard earlier in 2011, DiMichele has said.
Officers were on high alert because of Morris' past history, she said.
"We knew he was the same person, so we agreed we could not let him get to another residence," DiMichele said then. "We knew we had to stop him."
Morris spoke to Detective Joseph Robertazzi by phone during the pursuit and claimed to be armed. He threatened to kill the victim of the Brennan Concourse assault and declared his intention to die by "suicide by cop," police have said.