Prosecutor: Officer justified in shooting South Jersey man during wild traffic stop

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A Haddon Township police officer was justified in shooting a driver who crashed his pickup truck into a parked vehicle and then tried to run during a traffic stop in October, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday.

The wild scene unfolded after Edmond Brown, 38, who survived, was pulled over for having a visible handicap placard, which the officer said should be taken down while driving.

In dash-cam video that obtained, the officer appears not to know he had shot Brown. The Prosecutor’s Office corroborated that — but said the officer’s gun going off was still justified, because he believed Brown was trying to grab his weapon.

An attorney for Brown did not immediately return a call Friday. Brown was charged with eluding, aggravated assault, assault by auto, hindering apprehension, and unlawful possession of a weapon.

The judge who sentenced Brown in 2000 for a separate crime — a robbery in Camden County — is now the county’s lead prosecutor, Mary Eva Colalillo. She declined to recuse herself from this case.

State guidelines say that when police use deadly force, the prosecutor handling the investigation must determine “whether any actual or potential conflict of interest exists that might undermine public confidence in the impartiality and independence of the investigation.”

The Prosecutor’s Office has said that it alerted the state Attorney General’s Office to Colalillo’s sentencing of Brown, but that the Attorney General’s Office found no conflict of interest.

The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment Friday.

Detectives, who searched the truck driven by Brown after the shooting, found a black bag with a loaded .357 Magnum revolver, two knives in the front center console, and Brown’s driver’s license.

Authorities said Brown initially gave the officer a fake name, “Al Hakeem Reid,” after he was pulled over Oct. 29 along Alabama Road, a residential area just off Route 130 near the border of Haddon Township and Camden. The officer, whom authorities did not identify, told Brown to turn off the vehicle after finding no match in the system.

Brown then put the truck in drive — causing the officer to briefly climb into the driver’s-side window — and accelerated, curving left and smashing into a parked car, authorities said.

See a longer video of the stop here. 

The officer jumped from Brown’s vehicle just before it crashed.

As car alarms blared, the officer pulled his gun and yelled at Brown to get down. Brown stepped out of the truck with his hands up and got down on his knees before standing and putting his hands on the truck.

The officer then reached around Brown’s chest, apparently in an effort to get Brown to the ground. Brown then ran, and the officer chased him.

The officer grabbed Brown’s jacket with his right hand, then moved his left hand around Brown’s waist. In that hand was the officer’s service weapon.

The gun went off, striking Brown once in the thigh. 

The officer then put the gun back in his holster and took Brown down. Additional emergency responders arrived.

After the officer saw Brown’s leg wound, he described the incident to another law enforcement official.

The officer said Brown “had a fight with me basically while my gun was in my hand,” and it went off.

“Is everything on tape?” the law enforcement official asked. The officer said yes.

In the video, once police had restrained him, Brown is seen pointing out his leg wound to the officer.

“You shot me,” Brown said.

“I pulled you out at gunpoint, and you started running and wrestling with me,” the officer said.

“I got out, and you had a gun in my face,” Brown said.

Brown was treated at Cooper University Hospital and then sent to the Camden County Jail. He remains there on $150,000 bail.

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