STATEMENT BY THE OFFICE OF THE ATLANTIC COUNTY PROSECUTOR REGARDING THE INVESTIGATION OF THE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING OF DECEMBER 17, 2012 IN ATLANTIC CITY
This statement is being released in order to address concerns raised by members of the Atlantic City community regarding the investigation of the fatal shooting of an 18 year old Atlantic City resident by a member of the Atlantic City Police Department on December 17, 2012 in the area of Stanley Holmes Village.
I must emphasize that this investigation is in its early stages and that no conclusions have been reached regarding the reliability of the information gathered thus far and no conclusion has been reached regarding whether the officer involved in the shooting acted lawfully or unlawfully. Such conclusions are only properly made at the end of the investigation after all relevant information has been collected and evaluated.
According to formal guidelines set out by the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, the investigation of the fatal shooting of a citizen by a member of a municipal police department is the responsibility of the Prosecutor of the county in which that municipality is located. The Prosecutor must promptly notify the Office of the Attorney General of the initiation of such an investigation. That notification has been made in this case.
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit. As Attorney General guidelines require, the Atlantic City Police Department is not involved in the investigation.
Members of the Major Crimes Unit have interviewed all known police witnesses and all known civilian witnesses to the shooting and to the events leading up to the shooting. My office will continue to attempt to locate any additional citizens or police officers who have relevant information.
Information provided by both police and civilian witnesses indicate that 18 year old Derrick Mack was armed with a handgun during the foot chase by police which ended in the fatal shooting. A loaded, .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the scene of the fatal shooting a short distance from his body. This handgun has been subjected to forensic analysis.
Information provided by police and civilian witnesses indicates that police officers shouted verbal commands at Mack to drop the weapon in his possession and surrender.
Information provided by certain civilian witnesses indicates that Derrick Mack was attempting to surrender to police at the time he was shot. Observations by another civilian witness to the shooting indicate that Mack was not in the process of surrendering, but was in the process of attempting to draw a weapon from his waist at the time he was shot. These conflicting observations will need to be evaluated and judged in light of each other and in light of all of the other information gathered during the investigation.
The officer involved in the shooting has given a voluntary statement to detectives from our Major Crimes Unit. The officer, a 14-year veteran of the Atlantic City Police Department, indicates that, during the foot chase, he observed Mack in possession of a handgun and that he shouted verbal commands to Mack to drop the weapon and surrender as Mack ran away from him. The officer indicates that Mack slowed down, but was attempting to draw a weapon from his waistband as he began to turn toward the officer. The officer indicated that he feared for his life and fired his own weapon.
The officer's weapon was recovered by detectives from our Major Crimes Unit.
The information provided by the officer will need to be evaluated and judged in light of the information provided by other witnesses and in light of the information gathered during the post-mortem examination of the body of Derrick Mack.
A post-mortem examination of the body of Derrick Mack was conducted by the Atlantic County Medical Examiner on December 18, 2012. The preliminary findings of the medical examiner indicate that Derrick Mack died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The medical examiner noted that there were two entrance wounds on the left side of the upper back of Derrick Mack's torso.
My office is in the process of retaining the services of an independent expert in ballistics and shooting scene reconstruction, whose task it will be to take the information gathered from the post-mortem examination and from the witnesses and attempt to determine scientifically if the information supports or contradicts the officer's account of the shooting.
As noted above, this investigation is in its very early stages. Anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the Major Crimes Unit of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office at 609-909-7666.
James P. McClain, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor
December 19, 2012