AG’s Office Releases Video Footage from Body Worn Cameras and Street Camera Related to Fatal Accident Following Attempted Motor Vehicle Stop in Camden City, NJ
TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released video recordings related to a fatal accident that occurred on Feb. 6, 2021, after officers of the Camden County Police Department attempted to stop a driver. The driver, Rashad M. Muse, 26, of Philadelphia, Pa., crashed the car he was driving, exited the vehicle, and ran onto I-676, where he was struck by civilian vehicles and fatally injured.
Video recordings from seven police body-worn cameras (BWCs) and a street camera are being released today pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Prior to today’s release, investigators met with Mr. Muse’s relatives to review the video recordings with them.
On Feb. 6, 2021, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Camden County Police Officer Edward Melton and Officer Trainee Danielle Sigwart were on patrol in a marked vehicle when they observed a Dodge Charger driven by a civilian, later identified as Mr. Muse, speeding on Morton Street. Officer Melton activated his emergency lights and siren to conduct a motor vehicle stop, but Mr. Muse did not stop. Officer Melton did not pursue the car, but he and other officers in police vehicles located the Dodge Charger after Mr. Muse pulled into a snowy lot off of Whitman Avenue. Police Officers Melton, Billy Tran, and Joseph Razo, and Officer Trainees Sigwart and Eric Sweeney got out of their vehicles and approached Mr. Muse, shouting commands for him to get out of the car. Mr. Muse instead continued to drive, striking multiple vehicles, including a police vehicle, and driving very close to officers who were on foot before getting onto Whitman Avenue and speeding away.
Sgt. Brandon Galloza was responding to the incident when he observed the Dodge Charger traveling at high speed on Mt. Ephraim Avenue. Sgt. Galloza saw the Dodge Charger turn left onto Pine Street, where it crashed into a support in the underpass at I-676. Mr. Muse got out of the car and ran. He climbed over a fence and ran up an embankment onto I-676, where he was struck by civilian vehicles and fatally injured. When officers arrived, it was evident that no medical aid could help Mr. Muse. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The video recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner. Under both state law and the Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.
A copy of the Directive is available at this link:
https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/2019-4_Independent_Prosecutor_Directive.pdf, and a summary of that 10-step process is available at this link: https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/The-Independent-Prosecutor-Directive.pdf