CAMDEN CITY, NJ (Nov. 21, 2019)--The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office (“CCPO”) has completed its investigation into the use of force by an Investigator of the Camden County Sheriff’s Department and has concluded that the use of force was accidental and not criminal. The CCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the Grand Jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive (July 28, 2015, Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations) (“Directive”). Pursuant to the Directive, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with the CCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the actions of the Investigator in this case that led to the accidental discharge were justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with the CCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.
The incident occurred on August 22, 2018, within a residence located on 2nd Street, in the City of Camden. The Investigator accidentally discharged his department-issued handgun, while clearing a residence during the execution of a narcotics, no-knock, search warrant, resulting in a graze wound to the arm of a seventeen-year-old male. Upon entering the basement apartment, the Investigator encountered a male resident in the hallway. That resident refused to comply with the Investigator’s commands to get onto the ground and to stop moving toward the investigator and his team behind him. As a result, the Investigator unholstered his weapon to use the flashlight attached to the frame of his weapon, directly in front of the trigger guard. As the Investigator tried to flick the flashlight and momentarily distract the resident, he accidentally hit the trigger instead. The resident was not injured. However, his seventeen-year-old friend was behind him in the hallway, and his arm was grazed.
Personnel from the CCPO responded and conducted an investigation. Statements were taken from the Investigator, the resident, and the other officers present. During the course of the investigation, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office complied with all portions of the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police use-of-force investigations. The investigation revealed that the discharge was accidental and that the Investigator’s actions were not criminal. Accordingly, no criminal charges are being filed against the Investigator with regard to this incident.
Following the investigation, the CCPO charged the resident with multiple counts of Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, Distribution/Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Distribution/Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance within 500 feet of a Park.
All persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The undisputed facts indicate the Investigator’s conduct was justifiable under the law, and taking all of the facts into account, all of the evidence supports the conclusion that the discharge was accidental. Accordingly, our investigation and review of all information failed to disclose sufficient evidence to prove an allegation of criminal conduct against the Investigator. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the Directive.
Released Thursday, November 21, 2019