- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

WALDWICK, N.J. (AP) - A Bergen County town came together Monday to mourn a police officer killed when his unmarked car was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, while the driver charged in his death pleaded not guilty.

Several hundred residents of Waldwick, along with police officers from several surrounding communities, turned out for a procession for Officer Christopher Goodell that wound through the town past his house and the high school he graduated from in 2000, until it reached St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church for a wake.

About 12 miles south in Hackensack, the driver of the 18-wheeler that authorities say hit Goodell’s parked cruiser pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide during his initial court appearance.

Authorities allege the driver, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch of Brooklyn, was driving south on Route 17 in Waldwick early Thursday when he slammed into Goodell, who was on the side of the road checking for speeders. Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has said there was no evidence on the roadway that Cumberbatch tried to stop.

On Monday, residents of the town of about 10,000 lined the street for about 200 yards on either side of the police station as the procession of police motorcycles and patrol cars passed underneath a giant American flag strung over the street and held up by two fire trucks. Many in the crowd waved miniature American flags.

Goodell, 32, will be buried Tuesday. Gov. Chris Christie has ordered flags at state office buildings flown at half-staff on that day. Goodell was one of two New Jersey police officers to die in the line of duty last week. Officer Melvin Santiago was shot to death in Jersey City as he responded to an armed robbery call.

Cumberbatch, who is free on $25,000 bail, spoke only once during his brief hearing to tell state Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian that he understood the charge against him. Dressed in a white shirt and tie and black slacks, Cumberbatch left court without speaking to reporters. Several family members also declined comment.

Cumberbatch’s lawyer, David Glassman, said his client wouldn’t make a statement out of respect to Goodell’s family.

“We do obviously want to express our condolences to the victim’s family, which is the primary reason why we’re not issuing a statement at this time, because it’s not really appropriate,” Glassman said.

Glassman also represents Kevin Roper, the truck driver charged in the June 7 accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that seriously injured comedian and actor Tracy Morgan and killed a member of his entourage.

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Follow David Porter at www.twitter.com/DavidPorter_AP

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