NJ Cop Faces 1st Degree Murder — should have followed Law of Self Defense

Joseph Walker, NJ Detective

Hey folks,

You’d think a police officer would know better, but I’ve come across a MD incident in which a New Jersey detective (working for a State prosecutor’s office) managed to violate multiple principles of the law of self defense and get himself charged with 1st degree murder.  (Usual disclaimer:  the “facts” in hand are drawn from “news” reports, and may or may not be accurate or complete. You know how it is.)

The NJ police officer, James Walker, was apparently visiting Maryland with his wife and children, traveling in their Kia minivan. Joseph Harvey Jr., a 36-year-old MD resident, was also traveling by vehicle with a passenger, driving a Honda Accord. Harvey’s passenger told police that events began to unravel when Walker’s minivan turned onto the road they were traveling, cutting-off Harvey’s car, and forcing Harvey to swerve onto the shoulder to avoid a collision.

This triggered a mutual road-rage incident that would ultimate end up with both cars on the side of the walk, Walker discharging his handgun, Harvey dead in a local hospital, and Walker arrested and charged with murder. Walker’s lawyer claims that his use of force was justified in defense of himself and his wife and children.

Applying the Five Principles of the Law of Self-Defense to this case, however, reveals that Walker’s self-defense claim stands on shaky ground indeed–especially under the laws and prosecutorial attitudes of Maryland.

Take a look at my full-length LOSD analysis of the Walker/Harvey case over and Legal Insurrection, and see the reasons why Walker’s claim of self-defense is itself in considerable jeopardy:

NJ Cop Faces 1st Degree Murder — should have followed Law of Self Defense



–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


“The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” covers the current state of self-defense law in all 50 states. We’ve heard from many of you, however, that you’d like to dive even deeper into the self-defense law of your particular state–to have on hand the full-text of every self-defense statute, jury instruction, and even the full-text of the most important and controlling self-defense court decisions. Fitting 50-states worth of level of comprehensive detail would result in a book that weighs 500 lbs, which is why we didn’t take that approach in “The Law of Self Defense.” Due to the great demand for this further detail, however, we have begun rolling out a series of State-Specific Supplements that do provide exactly such  comprehensive coverage of each particular state’s self-defense law. Right now these are available on a pre-publication basis at a 38% discount, with delivery of each to occur over the next 2-3 months–pre-publication customers will, as always, receive their books first, with shipment to the general public not beginning until all pre-publication customers have first been sent their books.  To see the five states we are starting with, vote for other states to be covered, or to place your pre-publication order, click here:  State-Specific Supplements.


Andrew is currently in the process of planning his Fall 2013 Seminar Tours. This time he’ll be traveling from Boston, down the East coast, and then west to East Texas., (the “Southern” Tour) as well as from Boston to Ohio. (the “Northern” Tour)  Anyone interested in hosting or attending a seminar anywhere along that route, or participating in a webinar, please see Law of Self Defense Seminars/Webinars to get more information.

About Andrew F. Branca

Andrew is an Massachusetts lawyer in his third decade of practice and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense,, 2nd Edition” now available at www.lawofselfdefense.com and also at Amazon.com as either a hardcopy or in Kindle version.

He is also an attorney-member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, a Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-member and Certified NRA Instructor, and an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13) and Master-class IDPA competitor in CDP and SSP.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter on @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook, and at his blogThe Law of Self Defense.

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

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