A New Jersey police officer has been indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting of a Lansdowne man on Interstate 97 in an alleged road rage incident.

An Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted Joseph Lamont Walker, 40, on murder and weapons charges in the death June 8 of Joseph Dale Harvey Jr., a 36-year-old truck driver who grew up in the Old Mill area of the county.

Walker, an officer with the Hudson County, N.J., prosecutor's office, was initially charged with second-degree murder, which is listed along with manslaughter as a lesser charge in the court documents filed Tuesday.

"The grand jury heard the evidence and indicted him. The victim was shot three times," said Anne Arundel State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess.

Walker is scheduled for an arraignment Aug. 19 in Anne Arundel Circuit Court. Initially, he was held in the county jail on a $1 million bail and was released June 12 after posting bond.

"Detective Walker will plead not guilty," said his attorney, Charles N. Curlett Jr. "He acted in self-defense, and was defending his wife and three children. He looks forward to his day in court."

If convicted of first-degree murder, Walker could be sentenced to life in prison. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is 30 years and for manslaughter 10 years.

The incident occurred on the Route 3 merge onto I-97. A passenger in Harvey's car told police Harvey became angry when Walker's van cut him off as both turned left from Route 175 onto Route 3, and soon the two vehicles were swerving at each other.

According to charging documents, Walker pointed a gun at Harvey's car. Walker pulled over, and Harvey passed the van and pulled over ahead of it, according to police. Both men got out of their vehicles.

Walker's attorney at the time, Patrick J. McAndrew, said in the days after the shooting that his client showed his badge and was not the aggressor. He said Harvey attacked and threatened Walker, who was with his wife and their three children heading home from a cousin's birthday party in Odenton.

Police said Walker fired his service weapon and that an autopsy showed Harvey suffered three gunshot wounds.

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

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