By Karen Zautyk
A simple afternoon errand at Walmart on Friday, Sept. 6, by an off-duty Kearny police officer ended in what Chief John Dowie described as a life-and-death struggle between the cop and a fleeing robbery suspect.
Luckily, the officer managed to subdue his 6-foot -1, 250-lb. assailant — who police said has an adult arrest record dating to 1987.
The drama started at 2 p.m. as the cop — off-duty and not in uniform — was entering the store and observed another customer leaving with a large flatscreen TV in a shopping cart. The TV, apparently with its anti-theft device still attached, set off the security alarms. The store “greeter” tried to stop the man at the door, but he kept going, police said.
The Kearny officer interceded, blocked the guy’s path and asked for a receipt. According to the police report, the man became defiant and asked,
“Who are you?”
The officer identified himself as law enforcement and again asked for the receipt. To which the suspected shoplifter reportedly replied, “Man, you got me. You can have it back. We good?”
The officer’s obvious answer was “No,” since that’s not how suspected thefts are handled. Police said the individual became more aggressive, resisted the officer’s effort to take hold of him and then took off running into the Walmart parking lot, with the officer in pursuit.
Twice, the officer managed to grab hold of the suspect, but each time he broke away, first by ripping off his shirt and then his undershirt and fighting off his pursuer, police said.
The struggle continued through the Walmart lot and into the adjacent Wawa gas station, which is where it nearly turned lethal for the officer.
When the cop once more attempted to stop the runner, police said, the suspect tried to grab the officer’s gun and a fight for control of the weapon ensued.
“It became a life-anddeath struggle,” Dowie said.
“As [the officer] fought for his gun, he was fighting for his life.”
Despite his assailant’s efforts, the officer was able to retain control of the gun and then bring the hulking suspect to the ground.
While the pursuit was on, KPD headquarters had been receiving calls, and back-up units had been sent to the scene. The first to arrive was Officer Jack Corbett, who assisted his fellow officer in taking the suspect into custody.
Arrested on charges of robbery, aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and attempting to disarm a law enforcement officer was 46-year-old Shawn Lauren Campbell of Jersey City, who reportedly also had two outstanding warrants from Jersey City.
Campbell was remanded to the Hudson County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail, with no 10% option.
According to police, Campbell had been convicted of robbery in Essex County and his rap sheet includes arrests for cocaine, assault, terroristic threats, child endangerment, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a handgun, and aggravated sexual assault.