A Kearny police officer was justified in shooting a shoplifter outside the local Walmart back in September 2016, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office announced.Â
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
On September 16, 2016, a Kearny police officer was involved in a non-fatal police shooting in the Walmart parking lot, located at 150 Harrison Ave.
In accordance with state attorney general guidelines regarding police use of force investigations, the incident was fully investigated and reviewed by the Hudson County Prosecutorâ€™s Office, independent of Kearny police.
The investigation was conducted after completion of a comprehensive conflict inquiry which ensured that there were no actual or potential conflicts of interest by the HCPO Office personnel, the prosecutor’s office said on their website.
The investigation consisted of witness statements, video evidence, and the collection of physical evidence recovered at the scene, authorities said.
Based on the undisputed facts reached during the investigation, the HCPO has determined that “there are no material facts in dispute and the Officerâ€™s use of force was justified under the law. Therefore, the HCPO will not be presenting the matter to a Grand Jury.”
At approximately 8:21 a.m. on September 16th, 2016, the Kearny police officer was dispatched to the Walmart on a call of a shoplifter engaged with the storeâ€™s security staff, police said.
As the shoplifter tried to leave the scene in a 2012 Honda Accord, the officer fired three shots at the moving vehicle as it came towards him, authorities said.
The officer immediately advised dispatch of the discharge and broadcasted a description of the Honda. Multiple Kearny police units subsequently arrived at the scene.
Additionally, the Hudson County Prosecutorâ€™s Office was contacted and responded to the scene in addition to the HCPO Shooting Response Team. Five civilian eye witnesses to the event were identified and also remained at the scene, officials said.
The HCPO responded to the scene and conducted an independent investigation into the entire incident. The investigation included individually interviewing all five civilian witnesses and canvassing the scene for physical evidence.
During the canvass, three .40 caliber shell casings were recovered near the vicinity of the Police Officerâ€™s patrol unit. Furthermore, the HCPO took possession of the officerâ€™s duty weapon and magazine.
Photographs were secured of the spent shell casings and of the scene. HCPO investigators also obtained video surveillance from the Walmart displaying the parking lot and the complete interaction between the Police Officer and the Honda, authorities said.
Furthermore, all of the Kearny Police Department radio transmissions and phone calls related to this investigation were obtained and reviewed. The sworn statements given by the civilian witnesses corroborated the physical evidence, as well as the surveillance video and radio transmissions made and received by law enforcement.
Later that morning the actor and the Honda were recovered. The actor, identified as Ramon Martinez, of Newark had open wounds to his left arm and right shoulder. On September 19, 2016 a search was conducted of the Honda by HCPO investigators.
Furthermore, a ballistics examination determined that the spent shell casings were fired by the officers weapon after investigating the scene and the vehicle, officials said.
After a thorough review of all the evidence, the Hudson County Prosecutorâ€™s Office has concluded that the officerâ€™s use of force was justified under the Attorney Generalâ€™s use of force policy and the applicable law.
The results of this investigation and the legal conclusions reached were reviewed by the Attorney Generalâ€™s Office and they agreed with the HCPOâ€™s conclusion that the use of deadly force was legally justified and that there are no material facts in dispute that require presenting the matter to a grand jury, police said.