Senator Bob Gordon and Assembly members Connie Wagner and Tim Eustace (all D-Bergen/Passaic) today called for justice and better accountability from the judicial system in the case of Paramus resident Gabrielle Reuveni, who was fatally struck by Dover resident Philip Cise last month. Authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology reports to determine if Cise, who had numerous run-ins with police, will face criminal charges for his role in her death.
Gordon, Wagner and Eustace extended their condolences to the family of Reuveni, who was struck and killed while jogging near her family’s vacation home in the Poconos, and called on the judicial system to serve justice for Reuveni and hand down the appropriate punishment to Cise, who appeared to slip through the system despite numerous run-ins with police, including one incident in which he allegedly demanded food at a McDonald’s while wielding an ax.
Reuveni was valedictorian of the Paramus High Class of 2010, and was majoring in International Studies at Washington University in St. Louis where she was also a member of the 2011 National Champion women’s cross-country team. She was 20 years old.
“We applaud the Morris County Prosecutor's best efforts to make it more difficult for this man to be free, but there is a chance that he can again be released and allowed to roam freely while his multiple cases are taken up by different courts," said Sen. Gordon. “In cases such as this, where one man is such a threat to public safety, the only option must be for him to remain behind bars. Releasing him in the past with pending cases hasn't worked, and there's no reason to think this time would be any different.”
“My sincerest condolences go out to the family of Gabrielle Reuveni. The death of a loved one is always tragic, but the circumstances surrounding Gabrielle’s death are especially heartbreaking,” said Wagner. “It's clear from media reports of his many run-ins with police that Philip Cise was troubled. He should not have been on that road, driving that car, and he certainly should not have been free to drive again after striking her. It’s too late for Gabrielle, but I hope justice is served and once the trial is over, Cise will no longer be a danger to the public.”
“Every parent’s worst nightmare has become all too real for this family. My heart aches for them and their daughter whose life was cut short in her prime,” said Eustace. “It's hard to comprehend why an individual with a history of such erratic, violent behavior would have been allowed to roam the streets. Based on media reports, he was a danger to himself and the public. It’s somewhat of a relief to know he has been remanded indefinitely pending a psych evaluation. I just wish it had been done sooner. Maybe then Gabrielle would still be with her family.”
Cise was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck in Palmyra, Pa., on July 14 when he crossed the double-yellow lines multiples time before hitting Reuveni, who was jogging on the shoulder of Pennsylvania State Route 507, according to media reports. A sobriety test was conducted, but Cise was released pending the results. Cise was back on the road the following day and plowed another vehicle into a utility pole in Lake Hiawatha, according to media reports.
Cise has been accused of several instances of erratic and illegal behavior in Somerset, Morris and Hunterdon counties, according to media reports, including allegedly harassing employees at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster and stealing a truck from a Jefferson Township driveway. In 2001, Cise, who called himself “Fire Fighter Phil,” was accused of soliciting funds in the Tewksbury area for the "Fire Fighter Phil Foundation," a charity that he claimed supported the families of the Sept. 11 victims. The Hunterdon County Prosecutor denied he was a firefighter and the existence of his foundation. According to a media report, Cise allegedly threatened a Tewksbury police officer who confronted him about the legitimacy of his foundation