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FATAL POLICE SHOOTING LAWSUIT SETTLED-A lawsuit filed against6a00d8341bf7d953ef0176176315f9970c-800wi the borough’s of Bellmawr and Brooklawn by the family of a man shot and killed on April 26, 2012, by Brooklawn Police Officer Charles Holland and Bellmawr Police Sergeant Jeffrey Vance was settled on June 9, 2017, for $275,000. The lawsuit was brought by Deborah Wilson on behalf of her brother Michael Wood’s estate, according to John Paff of NJ Civil Settlements. (Read here)

 The suit claimed that the deceased before he died called 911 on April 26, 2012, after having become intoxicated and very depressed at his brother's (Chris Wood )Bellmawr apartment. Police forced their way into the apartment and fatally shot Michael Wood as he emerged from a bedroom while possibly carrying a knife, according to the court documents.

Court documents stated Michael Wood was taken to a nearby hospital with multiple gun shot wounds where he survived for a period of one and a half to two hours and was pronounced dead. The same documents state that both Boroughs fail to adequately supervise and discipline their officers who use excessive force.

(paragraph 20) The policies of the Borough of Bellmawr and the Borough of Brooklawn with respect to allegations of excessive force recorded by citizens is to conduct a minimal investigation designed to exonerate the officer involved, rather than discover the true facts of the incident. This appears also to have been the policy, practice, and custom of the County of Camden, through its prosecutor's office, which failed, for over a year, to issue a report regarding the incident.  

(Below are photo screen shots of page 4 and 5 of the filed complaint (click to enlarge)

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More details about the incident was released by United States District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in his   December 20, 2016, Opinion 

According to Judge Rodriguez's opinion, it appears that Chris became antagonistic by calling Michael names and telling him "look at that cop he's pointing a gun at you. He's gonna fucking kill you."  Michael reportedly told Chris to shut up and that "I just want to say goodbye."

A couple of minutes later, Michael reportedly opened the door while carrying the 14-inch knife vertically, with the blade pointing up.  According to Holland, he fired two fatal shots when Wood raised the knife to shoulder height and "pivoted toward Sergeant Vance."  Vance, however, said that the arm with which Wood held the knife was in a downward position and that Wood never turned toward him but remained facing Holland.

The case is captioned Estate of Wood, v. Borough of Bellmawr, et al, Federal Case No. 1:13-cv-0543 and the Estate's attorney was Robert J. Hensler of Collingswood. The complaint and the settlement are online here.

SUPER WAWA GIVEN GO AHEAD—The Brooklawn Planning Board on July 12 approved the preliminary and final site plan for the construction of a super Wawa at the intersection of US Route 130 and Browning Road. The site is presently occupied by the Metro Diner.

Related: Good-Bye Metro Hello Wawa

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There was no timeline given, according to the South Jersey Observer, of when the demolition/construction will begin. Duncan Prime, who is the attorney for the applicant LCP Brooklawn, stated that final approvals are still needed from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and also the County, but it looks like it will start next year.

The preliminary and final major site plan also includes space for a proposed 4,950 square foot retail building for a future tenant that hasn’t been identified.

As for the status of the Bellmawr Wawa located a few blocks away from the planned project, Browning Road, and Park Drive, Prime said “no decision has been made” with regard to that store, but it’s “likely” that it will close.


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