An award-winning New Jersey police officer who sent a text to his children saying, “your mother is dead because of her actions,” after shooting his ex-wife 12 times as several cops watched, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter last week.
Neptune Police Sergeant Phillip Seidle had a long history of abusing Tamara Wilson-Seidle before he killed her on June 16, 2015 while his 7-year-old daughter watched in horror.
According to NJ.com, Seidle was suspended in July of 2014 in relation to conflicts with his estranged wife. Sgt. Seidle also had a previous suspension that declared he was unfit for duty after another dispute.
In March of 2014, Seidle violated a court order by coming to Tamara Wilson-Seidle’s home to pick up his children, which led his suspension.
In February of 2012, Phillip Seidle told his ex-wife he needed to stop by to pick up a Breathalyzer Recertification card left there. Divorce court records show Phillip stated in a December 2014 affidavit.
“Tamara was speeding down the street in the Pilot. She pulled directly behind my police car, blocking me in the driveway, in spite of the fact there was an open space in the driveway next to it, got out of the car and rushed up the driveway yelling and screaming, ‘You’re an unwanted guest in my home. I’m calling the police. You’re in trouble now.”
After Tamara Seidle moved the car, police supervisors arrived. Philip Seidle said in a family court affidavit,
“I was later told by two sergeants that Tamara told them I went at her in a menacing manner, and that she feared for her safety. She also accused me of abusing her, and putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger in the past. She told them that several police officers had knowledge of what occurred and had done nothing. I was suspended pending an investigation and would be on leave for four months,” he wrote in the affidavit. “During that time, I was sent to a police psychologist and declared unfit for duty, not because I was violent, but because the divorce and Tamara’s behavior had taken such a toll on me, I couldn’t stay focused at work.”
Another psychologist required that Seidle follow court-set visitation guidelines before he was allowed to go back to work.
Tamara Wilson-Seidle argued for a change of venue during their divorce proceedings because her husband had too many connections in the Monmouth Court House since he’d been called to testify in court “on numerous occasions,” which allowed him to develop a rapport with court staff and attorneys.
She said he “bragged” over the years about the various favors from those in the local legal system.
Wilson-Seidle also stated that Sgt. Seidle applied for a job in the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office “where he has many friends and colleagues.”
Her request for a venue change was denied.
During the 11 years they were married, more than a dozen domestic violence reports were filed. But since those part of ongoing Internal Affairs investigations, it’s difficult to determine what they say since they’re not available to the public.
On June 16th, Phillip Seidle rammed his estranged wife’s Volkswagon causing her to crash on Sewall Avenue in Asbury Park.
Seidlel then walked up and shot her multiple times with a hand gun while his 7-year-old daughter sat in the passenger seat.
Phillp Seidle was said to be upset because of the amount of child support he was paying, lack of visitation with his children and the fact that Tamara Wilson-Seidle moved in with her new boyfriend, which drove him to committing the violent act.
“She had condemned me to my children for three and a half years for being with someone else, and then, I never even introduced my kids to my lady. And now she moves this guy in and replaces me with him, and makes him their father. You know, she commits adultery.”
After shooting his wife the first time, Seidle then held a gun to his head and paced around engaging police in 20-minute standoff while his daughter sat in the front seat .
During the standoff, officers on the scene negotiated with Seidle and convinced him to allow them to remove his daughter from the front seat.
After they removed his daughter to a safe place, Seidle then went to the front of his wife’s car and shot her again, according to prosecutors.
The Asbury Park Press, along with members of the public and other media, criticized the department for negotiating with Seidle at all, claiming that deadly force was justified in this case and alleging that officers were afraid to shoot another officer, someone they may have personally known.
“Should they have allowed him to shoot his wife again? No,” said Tom Aveni, executive director of the Police Policy Studies, an entity that provides training and consultation to police departments.
According to guidelines on the use of force from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office in 2000, “Police may use deadly force when they have reason to believe that doing so is immediately necessary protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.”
However, deadly force should be a last resort and police are not obligated to use it, the guidelines say.
Police said they are still investigating why deadly force wasn’t used while others are arguing there was too much slack from Neptune Police for their fellow cop.
According to NJ.com, an anonymous source said Tamara Wilson-Seidle was aware of a threat because two of her children informed her that their father said in an earlier phone call that he intended to harm her while she was driving. She instructed them to call 911.
Police were aware of the threat and arrived quickly to the crash scene, but did not act quickly enough to save Tamara Wilson-Seidle from their Thin Blue Line comrade.
On Thursday, Seidle accepted a plea deal of aggravated manslaughter so he doesn’t have to put his children through the trauma of testifying about the incident.
“To avoid further trauma to our family, we have thoughtfully accepted this guilty plea,” Kirsten Seidle told the press.
“My family and I will not be answering any questions.”
Sgt Seidle’s 9 children sued various Monmouth County agencies.
They argued that given a history of domestic disputes, Seidle shouldn’t have been a police officer and shouldn’t have had a gun and are seeking $10 million from the state and county.
Prosecutors said they’ll seek 30 years in prison for Seidle. The defense said they plan to argue there are “mitigating circumstances” that justify a shorter term for the former Sgt.