Bail-Dog the Bounty Hunter

Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman joins the family of Christian Rodgers on Monday in Trenton as they announce a wrongful death lawsuit that claims New Jersey’s new bail reform measures are to blame for the Millville man’s shooting death in April in Vineland.

Bruce Shipkowski / ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRENTON — In his continued push against New Jersey’s new bail rules, Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman lent his support Monday to a lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie regarding the April killing of a Millville man.

Chapman, who starred in “Dog the Bounty Hunter” on A&E and “Dog and Beth on the Hunt” on CMT, said Monday during a news conference in Trenton that the wrongful death suit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of the family of Christian Rodgers.

The 26-year-old was reportedly shot while walking along East Chestnut Avenue in Vineland during the afternoon of April 9. He was found dead in the backyard of a property near the 100 block of East Chestnut Avenue.

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The man charged with murder in the killing, 30-year-old Jules Black, of Vineland, had been released from jail a few days earlier following his arrest on a weapons charge. The lawsuit claims Black wasn’t detained because of bail reforms that went into effect this year and that were championed by the Republican governor.

“I wanted to help support the Rodgers family and to send a message to Gov. Chris Christie that law-enforcement professionals like myself from across the country think he should be ashamed of himself for ignoring our advice and passing the dangerous, fake reform that I believe led to the tragic murder of Christian Rodgers,” Chapman said in the statement. “Christie should be ashamed of himself. The Governor needs to know that the eyes of every American who loves their family and wants to preserve law and order are on him right now.”

Proponents of the bail reforms say they were enacted as a way to keep violent offenders detained until trial while providing poor, low-level defendants the opportunity to be freed. But some lawmakers and law enforcement officials say it has led to some people being quickly released because they weren’t deemed a threat and then later rearrested on new charges.

The number of defendants in jail before having a trial was down 20 percent on June 30 compared to Jan. 1, according to data released by the state last week.

Of the nearly 22,000 defendants to appear in state courts in the first half of the year, only 14 percent were sent to jail. The majority got some level of pretrial monitoring, including GPS bracelets and check-ins with court officers.

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Waldy Diez joined the Press of Atlantic City's breaking news team in July 2017. She's a graduate of Syracuse and Rowan Universities. Previously, she was a morning tv news producer.

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