New Jersey Mayor Richard Berdnick shot himself in a restaurant after officers charged him


A New Jersey mayor apparently committed suicide at a Clifton restaurant on Tuesday, days after federal authorities charged three police officers with beating an arrestee.

Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnick, a longtime law enforcement officer with close ties to North Jersey, shot himself Tuesday afternoon at a popular Turkish restaurant in Clifton, four people familiar with what happened told the Patterson Press and , which is part of the USA Today network.

Berdnick went to the bathroom at Toros Restaurant on Hazel Street, and soon after people in the restaurant heard a gunshot, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because family members had not been notified.

On January 17, federal authorities arrested three Passaic County sheriff’s officers on charges involving the alleged battery of a detainee in the county jail. The next day, Berdnick said he was planning to lay off more than two dozen correctional officers.

On Tuesday, a call went out over the Passaic County police radio system for all units to respond to the Toros shortly after 3:30 p.m.

There were more than a dozen police cars inside the apartment building, including Patterson Police, Passaic Sheriff’s, Clifton Fire and Clifton Police, all with their lights flashing. Nearby streets were closed. Two helicopters flew over the scene of the accident, surrounding the restaurant.

The view outside Toros restaurant in Clifton, New Jersey, January 23, 2024.

Authorities at the scene did not comment and referred all questions to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. The Toros owner did not speak to reporters.

Berdnick, a retired Clifton police officer, has served as county sheriff since 2011, after winning re-election in November 2022 to a fifth three-year term. Berdnick was in his mid-60s.

Clifton Councilman Bill Gibson, a retired Clifton police officer, said he has been Berdnick’s partner for years. When told of his death, Gibson said: “What? No. He was my partner. We were brothers, for crying out loud. … I’ve got to go.”

Former Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi said he was unusually fond of Berdnick even though Anzaldi is a Republican and Berdnick was elected five times as a Democrat.

“I can’t imagine,” Anzalde said. “Richie was the salt of the earth, and my favorite person. My heart breaks for his family.”

Berdnik’s death came after his department had a difficult week.

The FBI arrested two sergeants and a police officer Jan. 17 on charges involving the alleged beating of a pretrial detainee at the Passaic County Jail in January 2021. Last Thursday, Berdnick issued a memo saying he would lay off 29 police officers as a result of closing the same prison.

“I am well aware that there has been a lot of confusion and stress during this very difficult time at our agency,” Berdnick’s memo said. “I have done everything in my power to find work for all affected employees but unfortunately, we must move forward to lay off 29 correctional police officers at this time.”

Berdnick was a graduate of Clifton High School, the New Jersey State Police Academy, the FBI National Academy, and the FBI National Executive Institute. Berdnick’s wife, Monica Berdnick, works as a pediatric nurse at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson and they have four adult children, according to the British Daily Mail. Berdnick’s biography is on the Passaic County Sheriff’s website. Berdnick was a parishioner and Eucharistic minister at St. Andrew’s Church in Clifton and a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

Check back for updates on this developing story…

If you or your child are experiencing a mental health crisis, one of the quickest ways to reach a counselor is through the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988. This will direct you to counselors with the NJ Hope Line. Other resources can be found through New Jersey Mental Health Cares at 866-202-HELP.

This article originally appeared on Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnick shoots himself in a restaurant

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