A man who opened fire on two police officers during a motor vehicle pursuit was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Friday.
Kevin Gallashaw, 23, of Paterson, previously pleaded guilty to two attempted murder charges, eluding police, and certain persons not to have a weapon.
Gallashaw was sentenced to 13 years in state prison by Passaic County judge Marybel Mercado-Ramirez. He must serve 11 years before being eligible for parole. He has been in jail since his arrest in 2019 and received 977 days of jail credit.
“I’m sorry, I apologize. Sometimes we make mistakes. I was wrong. I was scared. I was young. My attempt was not to kill anybody. It was just a mistake one after another,” said Gallashaw during the sentencing hearing.
Gallashaw apologized to his parents for putting them through “shame and embarrassment.” He did not apologize to the two police officers he shot at, pointed out Passaic County chief assistant prosecutor Peter Foy.
On July 4, 2019, police tried to conduct a motor vehicle stop. Gallashaw was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle. He led police on a “short but dangerous motor vehicle pursuit,” said Foy, that ended with a crash on the corner of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Fulton Street.
Gallashaw had a handgun and “substantial quantity of drugs” inside the vehicle. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed into another car. He got out of the vehicle via the driver side window because the door of the vehicle sticks and does not open. He then opened fire on two police officers.
Foy said Gallashaw fired 12 rounds at police officers. None of the officers were struck.
“He fired indiscriminately without concern for who else could be hit by his gunfire,” said Foy.
Foy played a video of the car chase and shooting during the court hearing.
Gallashaw’s mother Lynda Gallashaw, an activist and former New Jersey Senate candidate, fought to get her son out of jail. She submitted a 50-page packet that was described as a scrapbook that had pictures of her son from childhood to adulthood. It showed him involved in karate and church activities. He was also involved in high school debate. There were family vacation photographs and a visit to family members in Georgia, said the judge.
“The court is not sentencing a little boy that’s depicted in his mother’s scrapbook,” said Foy. “This court is sentencing a grown man, a convicted felon, who armed himself with a handgun, who deliberately and intentionally fled police. And who tried to kill two police officers.”
Foy said Gallashaw had six arrests during his 23 years of life. This was his third indictable conviction, he said.
“This is not a first-time offense. This is not a one-time incident,” said Foy. “He was on probation at the time he tried to kill two police officers,” said Foy.
Foy said Gallashaw would have received a much longer sentence – decades in prison — if he was put on trial and convicted by a jury.
Gallashaw, the mother, suggested her son was being treated unfairly because of race.
“The judge is also brown,” said Ramirez. “I want to make that clear.”
The judge pointed out one of the two officers her son shot at is Black or Brown.
The judge said the court received multiple letters from various community leaders, including a Paterson police officer, asking for a lenient sentence.
Letters of support came from assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, police lieutenant Sharon Easton, and former councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes.
Wimberly’s letter stated Gallashaw, the son, had a wonderful character and was a protective and kind citizen, read the judge.
Easton’s letter stated Gallashaw’s actions in the incident were a “wayward act” not of his character, read the judge.
Towards the end of the sentencing, Gallashaw, the mother, was reprimanded by the judge for recording the proceeding using a cellphone.
“If you were in the court room, you would be arrested for that,” the judge told the mother.
The judge told Gallashaw, the son, it was “miraculous” that no one was shot or killed. A police officer returned fire after Gallashaw fired at them.
“Thank God, nobody was shot,” said the judge.