In a relatively sane world, a drunk who decided to settle an argument with a gun—and then ended up deceased for his trouble—would be written off as a jerk who earned his death by dramatically escalating a verbal confrontation into a deadly force encounter.
Unfortunately, we no longer live in sane times.
Officials say Alfred Toe got in a dispute with someone else at the party. He then allegedly went into his brother Constantine’s car to grab a gun. That’s when Constantine Toe confronted him and tried to wrestle the gun out of his hand, officials said. During the struggle, Constantine was shot in the hand but managed to get the gun away from his brother, according to investigators.
Witnesses say the off-duty officer then confronted Constantine Toe and took the gun away from him. He then pulled out his own service weapon and held Constantine Toe on the ground. Witnesses say that Alfred Toe, who did not know the man was a police officer, then jumped in and tried to grab the officer’s gun. That’s when the off-duty officer opened fire, according to the witnesses.
The shooting occurred at a repast celebration following a funeral earlier in the day. The Toe brothers and the off-duty officer were among those remembering the life of the recently departed when Alfred Toe got in an argument with someone at the party, and decided that the argument was best ended with deadly force.
Constantine Toe was shot in the hand while wrestling the gun away from his violent idiot of a brother. The off-duty officer, who was apparently unaware of the incident until he heard a gun shot, then came outside to see Constantine Toe with a gun in his hand.
Being a cop, he saw a bloody man with a handgun and disarmed him. Alfred Toe, still being a hot-headed idiot who learned nothing from shooting his brother a few seconds before, then attacked the off-duty officer.
The off-duty officer then shot Alfred Toe, who died at the hospital.
Friends of Toe are blasting the officer for shooting him, questioning whether the off-duty officer identified himself, and whether or not the officer was legally drunk when he shot Toe.
They seem to have far less to say about Alfred Toe, who was the person who attempted to introduce a weapon into a verbal confrontation, who shot his brother, and then who was shot after attacking the off-duty police officer.
I do not claim to know the specifics of this incident beyond those partial facts provided by the other party-goers—who were likely drinking themselves—and the officials who commented to NBC-10. Nor do I have any knowledge of the policies of the Trenton Police, their policies on off-duty carry, and what those policies (and any applicable state laws) may be regarding officers drinking while off duty and carrying concealed.
What I can say is that officers are never truly “off duty,” and they are typically expected by their departments to step in if they see a felony in progress. I know of several incidents where officers had “a few drinks” and then got in a great deal of trouble when they acted like fools with firearms, committing crimes or creating negligent discharges. Underscoring those incidents, however, was the expectation that officers are expected to carry at all times, and that drinking to excess and committing crimes was the issue.
If the Trenton Police expect their officers to be armed both on and off duty, they likely have a policy on how much an officer is allowed to drink and carry. If the officer was within these limits for consumption, then the focus shifts to whether he identified himself as an officer. As this is a nearly automatic behavior for officers, I suspect that he did. I would not be surprised, however, if there was a lot of yelling, noise, and perhaps music that drowned out him stating that he was an officer.
At the end of the day, Alfred Toe is the person who decided to introduce deadly force to a verbal disagreement, shot his brother in a struggle over the gun, and then attacked a police officer who subsequently shot him.
He is the man most responsible for his death.