Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grand Jury Determined Use of Deadly Force by Pleasantville Officers was Justified

James P. McClain
On April 22, 2013, at approximately 4:29 p.m., a 19-year-old resident of Pleasantville armed with a knife was shot and killed by uniformed Pleasantville officers during a confrontation on West Park Avenue in Pleasantville. Following the shooting, detectives from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit conducted an investigation into the circumstances and events leading up to the shooting.

During the course of this investigation, Major Crimes detectives documented and measured the scene, interviewed all Pleasantville police officers on scene, including the officers who fired shots, as well as civilians known to have relevant information. In addition, all information gathered during the investigation was submitted to a nationally renowned expert in shooting scene reconstruction and the use of force in law enforcement for review and evaluation.

Today, the information gathered during the course of the investigation was presented to the Atlantic County Grand Jury pursuant to guidelines set out by the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General. After hearing the evidence, the grand jury determined that the officers’ use of deadly force was lawful and justified and declined to return criminal charges against the officers.
The investigation revealed that on April 22, 2013, at approximately 4:19 p.m., the 19-year-old male called the 911 line in Pleasantville and identified himself to the 911 operator. The male also stated that he wanted to kill someone and that the police better be prepared to shoot him. During the course of this short conversation, the male also stated that he was armed with a knife and gave his location.
Upon arrival at the scene, officers encountered the male, who was armed with a large kitchen knife and a rock. During the course of the confrontation, which followed and lasted between 6 to 7 minutes, the male repeatedly refused to drop the knife, repeatedly told the officers to kill him and repeatedly threatened to kill the officers.
The Pleasantville officers repeatedly tried to gain control of the male through non-lethal means, but these attempts were unsuccessful.
After a short period of time, the male adopted a more aggressive posture and demeanor and advanced upon the officers while brandishing the knife. The male came to within approximately 6 feet of the officers. Almost simultaneously, three of the officers on scene fired a total of 10 rounds at the male, 7 of which struck the male in the head, neck, chest, shoulder and abdomen. The male died at the scene.
It was the opinion of the independent expert that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officers’ versions of the shooting is supported by the evidence and that the officers’ use of deadly force was not only justified, but that the officers exercised great restraint in dealing with this subject and that the officers had no other reasonable course of action available to them at the time.
James P. McClain, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page.

People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.


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