In accordance with the Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Amending Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2006-5, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is releasing the following statement regarding a fatal police-involved shooting in Camden.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office has determined the use of deadly force was legally justified in a shooting that involved Camden County Police Department officers and a suicidal man wielding a realistic-looking air pistol. An independent investigation revealed 33-year-old Oscar Camacho, Jr. ignored orders to drop his weapon as he walked toward two officers while pointing a .22 Crosman Arms CO2 revolver at one of the officers near the intersection of Bergen and Harrison Avenues on the night of July 3, 2015.
The shooting occurred after Mr. Camacho called 911 at approximately 11 p.m. and advised the dispatcher he had been involved in multiple motor collisions. He also indicated he was armed with a gun, wanted to kill himself and intended to confront police. Following the 911 call, Mr. Camacho said his goodbyes to friends and relatives and then walked off the porch of a friend’s residence toward responding officers. Several witnesses, including area residents, confirmed he had his arm raised and pointed in a manner consistent with aiming a weapon at the officers as he advanced toward them. After ignoring orders to drop his weapon, two of the three responding officers fired at Mr. Camacho. He was struck multiples times and fell to the ground. Afterward, his weapon was found lying within inches of him.
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice reviewed the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation and agreed with the conclusion that the use of deadly force was legally justified.
Factual findings of the investigation:
The investigation conducted by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that on July 3, 2015, Camden County Police Department officers responded to area of Bergen and Harrison Avenues for a 911 call made at approximately 11 p.m. by a suicidal male who advised that he had been involved in multiple vehicle collisions and was armed with a gun.
The male caller, who later identified himself as Oscar Camacho, Jr., stated to the 911 dispatcher that he had “caused a lot of harm out here.” Mr. Camacho then stated, “I don’t want to live, like I’m sayin’, like I got a gun.” He also stated, “I crashed a lot of cars and I have a problem” as well as “I’m done with life…”
The dispatcher asked Mr. Camacho, “And you’re saying you wanna kill yourself?” Mr. Camacho responded, “Yes.” Mr. Camacho then stated, “I’m done. I’m done with myself. I’m done, I’m done with it all, I’m done.” As the dispatcher continued obtaining information from the caller, Mr. Camacho stated, “I don’t want nobody to come at me… I’m gonna come at the cops like I said, whatever, and we’re gonna go in a shootout, whatever… it is what it is.”
As the conversation continued, the dispatcher notified Camden County Police and paramedics and advised them of the description of Mr. Camacho’s vehicle, a burgundy Honda Civic, and that the male driver was armed and suicidal. Mr. Camacho told the dispatcher, “I’m not gonna get locked up … I prefer them to shoot me …”
A homeless man, who frequents the neighborhood and is known to residents, was on Bergen Avenue immediately before the shooting and reported seeing a man, later identified as Mr. Camacho, pull up to his location in a car and exit the vehicle carrying what appeared to be a revolver. The homeless man observed Mr. Camacho walk toward the corner of Harrison and Bergen Avenues.
Camden County Police Officer #1 and Officer #2, who were both patrolmen in uniform and in a marked patrol vehicle, located Mr. Camacho’s car parked on the right side of Bergen Avenue, approximately 50 feet past the intersection of Bergen and Harrison Avenues. Officer #1 stopped their patrol vehicle on Bergen Avenue just after the intersection with Harrison Avenue. Camden County Police Officer #3, a uniformed sergeant who was in a separate marked patrol vehicle, parked his vehicle just before the intersection of Bergen and Harrison Avenues.
Mr. Camacho’s vehicle appeared to be unoccupied, but Officer #1 and Officer #2 observed the aforementioned homeless man standing behind the vehicle pushing a lawn mower. Officer #1 believed the homeless man was Mr. Camacho, so Officer #1 and Officer #2 approached him.
Officer #3, who remained by his patrol vehicle, observed Mr. Camacho walk to the front door of a residence on the 3200 block of Harrison Avenue. Inside that residence were two of Mr. Camacho’s friends and his brother. When one friend answered the door, Mr. Camacho shook his hand and said “I love you, bro.” He stated that he saw Mr. Camacho walk off his porch and toward the right. The other friend, who was in the kitchen at the time, reported hearing Mr. Camacho say: “Tell everybody I love them …” Mr. Camacho’s brother said that he heard his sibling at the front door, saying something like: “Guys, I love you.”
The friend, who had been in the kitchen, then went to the door and saw that Mr. Camacho was off the porch holding his right hand straight out. He could not see what was in Mr. Camacho’s hand because the railing of the porch obstructed his view. Mr. Camacho’s brother stated that once he was out on front porch, his brother had already walked down the porch steps, made a quick turn to the right and walked toward the intersection of Bergen and Harrison Avenues. Mr. Camacho’s brother then observed his brother raise his left hand.
While Mr. Camacho was descending the porch steps, Officer #1 and Officer #2 were talking to the homeless man. Officer #1 stated that Mr. Camacho walked toward him and Officer #2. It was during this time that Officer #2 saw that Mr. Camacho was armed with a black gun with a brown handle. Officer #3 confirmed that Officer #1 and Officer #2 were both outside of their vehicle when Mr. Camacho approached them carrying a handgun.
According to Officer #1, Mr. Camacho held the gun in his right hand, and pointed it to the ground. Officer #1 described the gun as a revolver with a long barrel, about six to eight inches long. Once Officer #1 saw the gun, he screamed “gun” to alert the other officers on scene.
Both officers ordered Mr. Camacho to drop the gun. He ignored their commands and proceeded toward the officers with the gun pointed downward. When Mr. Camacho was approximately 10 to 20 feet from Officer #2, he raised the gun and pointed it at him. Officer #1 spun to the left, drew his weapon, and took cover at the rear of his patrol car. Officer #2 took cover behind the rear of an SUV next to him. At the same time, Officer #1 and Officer #2 were giving orders to Mr. Camacho to drop his weapon, Officer #3 also ordered him to drop the weapon and get down on the ground.
Additionally, there were two neighbors in close proximity to the incident. One neighbor, who had been taking out trash when the officers arrived, heard Officer #3 yelling for someone to “get down, get down.” She could not see who the officer was yelling at. The second neighbor confirmed that Mr. Camacho faced Officer #2 and made a “move” before he was shot. He later demonstrated the “move” to detectives and made a motion consistent with drawing an object from the waist.
Because Mr. Camacho continued to point his weapon at Officer #2 while disregarding all the officers’ orders to drop his weapon, Officer #3 shot at Mr. Camacho. Officer #3 fired 16 times, striking Mr. Camacho multiples times. Officer #2, who had taken cover behind an SUV, heard the gunshots and believed Mr. Camacho was shooting at him. Officer #2 then leaned out from behind cover and fired his weapon once toward Mr. Camacho. Officer #1 never discharged his weapon.
After being struck by bullets, Mr. Camacho fell to the ground and his gun was observed lying within inches of him. His weapon was later identified as a .22 Crosman Arms CO2 revolver.
Based upon the results of this investigation, Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo determined that the use of deadly force by Officer #2 and Officer #3 was clearly necessary to protect both of the officers from imminent death or serious bodily injury. No criminal charges were filed and the matter was not presented to a grand jury. The Division of Criminal Justice reviewed the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation and agreed with the conclusion that the use of deadly force was legally justified. Furthermore, the Division of Criminal Justice agreed with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office’s determination that the case forgo a grand jury presentation because no material facts were in dispute.
During the course of this investigation, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office complied with all portions of the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police use-of-force investigations.
Released Tuesday, February 9, 2016.