HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — A police officer was hospitalized with serious injuries after an intoxicated driver plowed into his car at a traffic post Friday night, police said.
Officer Leo Rudolph was in a marked patrol car with its emergency lights on, diverting traffic from Route 322 onto Route 50 in Mays Landing, police said. Route 322 was closed between routes 50 and 559 due to downed wires.
About 10 p.m., Rasul Mohammed Smith, of Whitsett, North Carolina, failed to yield and crashed into the front of Rudolph’s car, police said. Smith significantly damaged the patrol car and Rudolph was seriously injured, police said.
Rudolph was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, police said.
Smith was uninjured and was charged with careless driving, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, operating an uninsured vehicle, driving without a seat belt, failure to yield to an officer’s direction and failure to move over, police said. Further charges are pending, police said.
The Township of Hamilton Rescue Squad assisted at the scene, police said. Sgt. Tim Graczyk and Officer Keone Osby are investigating. Route 322 has since been reopened.
Rudolph was hired by the township Police Department in 2002.
In 2007, he shot and killed a bank robbery suspect who led police on a car chase and then fled on foot into the Cedar Point development, then under construction. A grand jury found Rudolph acted appropriately, firing when suspect Hay Nhat Duong ignored orders to stop moving toward Rudolph and swung his arm out in an apparent shooting motion. No weapon was found.
The department gave Rudolph an exceptional service award in January 2008, “not because another man made an unfortunate decision that cost him his life, but because, under great stress of threat to himself and our citizens, Leo Rudolph made the only correct decision left to him,” then-Chief Jay McKeen said at the ceremony.