An Egg Harbor Township doctor broke no laws when he pulled a gun threatening to kill himself as investigators came to search his office, according to a motion to dismiss his indictments filed Friday.
James Kauffman has been jailed since the June 13 standoff at his Ocean Heights practice.
After he surrendered, the 9mm handgun was recovered from a rear office. A search of his vehicle parked in the lot outside found a Keltch .380-caliber handgun in the center console of his car
Kauffman has been jailed since that day on weapons and obstruction charges. He was indicted Sept. 6 on two counts of possession of a handgun without a permit to carry, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and obstruction.
But Kauffman didn’t need a carry permit to have the guns at his office, attorney Lou Barbone wrote in the 22-page motion, which also claims there is no evidence that Kauffman had any intentions of using the gun in any way other than suicide.
Barbone charges that the details of how Kauffman used the gun along with certain exceptions to the gun statute were misrepresented to the grand jurors who handed up the indictment.
In addition to being able to have the gun at his place of business, the statute also “exempts possession when it is ‘between his dwelling and his place of business,’” Barbone wrote. ”It is absurd to suggest that the state did not know that such an exemption applies.”
While he allows that the standoff delayed the search, Barbone said it does not rise to the level of obstruction.
“There is not a scintilla of testimony of evidence presented to this grand jury that demonstrates anything other than delay because defendant was pointing a gun at his own chest and threatening suicide. Suicide is not illegal,” Barbone wrote.
He also adds: “Similarly, there is no evidence or testimony whatsoever that any officer was ever threatened with a weapon. Nor was there any evidence that the defendant ever positioned the weapon in any way whatsoever that would demonstrate any ‘specific purpose to use it unlawfully against the officer.’”
When Kauffman saw the officers outside the locked glass doors to his practice, he disappeared inside for a short time before coming out and unlocking the doors.
At that time, he called his attorney, according to what he later told Detective Jason Kangas during a 9 minute and 12 second call that eventually helped end the standoff.
“Kauffman said that if we take his computers, his business was over and he might as well kill himself,” Kangas, a trained hostage negotiator, wrote in his report. “He proceeded to say that he didn’t do anything wrong. He said that he lost his wife, and now this.”
Kauffman’s wife, radio host and veterans advocate April Kauffman, was fatally shot in the bedroom of their Linwood home May 10, 2012. That killing has never been solved.
But the affidavit of Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Detective James Scoppa “details the state’s investigation of the defendant for the murder of his wife for the last five years,” Barbone wrote in the motion.
That affidavit was not presented to the grand jury.
However, what was presented should get the indictment thrown out, Barbone claims.
After unlocking the door, Kauffman reached into his scrubs and pulled out a gun that he pointed at his chest, according to the reports of four officers who witnessed the incident.
But, in his presentation to the grand jury, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Lt. Kevin Ruga says that Kauffman pulled out the gun and held it across his chest, said Barbone, alleging it was a misrepresentation of what really happened.
“Ruga never tells the grand jury that Kauffman pulled out the gun and immediately pointed it at his own chest,” Barbone wrote.
A date for the motion to be heard has not yet been scheduled.
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