A New Jersey cop accused of breaking into his estranged wife’s home, shooting her, and then chasing her into the streets to put a final bullet in her head—all while in uniform—will finally face a judge next week.
Newark Lt. John Formisano was arrested a couple of hours after the July 15 slaying. But instead of being brought to court, he was taken to a psychiatric unit after telling investigators that he “blacked out” just before the shooting.
According to a police affidavit, the 49-year-old exhibited “suicidal behavior.” Five weeks later, he was still in the hospital and had not been arraigned in a court of law—frustrating victim Christie Solaro-Formisano’s family.
“What we feel is we want to have some justice. Any justice can bring a small fraction of peace and closure,” her aunt, Joy Mandara, said earlier this week. “Right now, it seems justice is working very slowly and differently from how we expected.”
After The Daily Beast and local media reported on the delay, the wheels of justice seemed to speed up. Prosecutors confirmed Saturday that there will be a hearing in the case on Wednesday, and that Formisano will appear via video hookup from the psychiatric unit.
Before the hearing was scheduled, prosecutors had insisted Formisano was not getting special treatment because he is a police officer.
“If this defendant was a house painter or a businessman on Wall Street in the same circumstances, it would have been handled in the same way,” a spokesman for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office told The Daily Beast earlier in the week.
At the time of the shooting, Solaro-Formisano and the Newark lieutenant were in the process of getting a divorce.
Formisano told investigators that he went to her home to drop off glasses for their 8-year-old daughter, the older of their two children. The mother of two was home with her boyfriend, and went down to the door.
“He’s got a gun!” Solaro-Formisano yelled, according to the boyfriend. “Call 911!”
A nightmarish scene ensued. Formisano allegedly chased his estranged wife through the house, shooting at her, then broke down the bedroom door and shot the boyfriend in the abdomen, thigh, arms, and hand.
Bleeding from her wounds, Solaro-Formisano ran outside. She was scrambling up the steps to a neighbor’s house when the cop allegedly caught up to her and shot her in the head.
The neighbor called 911 and identified the gunman. “He’s a Newark cop. He lives on the corner. I saw it. I saw him through my window. He’s in his uniform,” she told the dispatcher.
According to police, Formisano locked his service weapon in the trunk of his car, tossed his cellphone and drove 30 miles. He was nabbed in a parking lot.
During a police interview, he did not deny his role in the bloodshed.
“After entering the residence, Formisano stated he began to suspect that [his estranged wife] had a male guest in the bedroom, at which point he ‘blacked out,’” the police affidavit said.
“He stated that he recalls firing his weapon numerous times.”