The courtroom in Atlantic City has quickly filled up with police officers and other people who support Officer Joshlee Vadell, while the two men accused of shooting him walked into the courtroom Tuesday.
It was the first appearance in court of Martel D. Chisolm, 29, of Millville and Demetris Cross, 28, of Bridgeton who were accused of shooting Officer Vadell, 29, on Sept 3 at 2:30 a.m. in Atlantic City. They were involved in a robbery committed by six men near the Caesar’s Atlantic City Casino parking garage where they were spotted by two Atlantic City Police Department officers on patrol. They are being held in the Atlantic County Jail and their bail will remain at $750,000 each as ruled by Judge Bernard E. DeLury according to nj.com report.
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To accommodate the people in the courtroom, extra chairs were wheeled into the aisle. However, even with the extra chairs, it was not enough to accommodate the crowd and many of the spectators remained standing throughout the proceedings.
“I know more wanted to be here but just on short notice the surrounding communities — guys who we don’t work with every day from further out than Atlantic City — have been showing up and to just have this on such short notice, it’s an unbelievable feeling and it’s making this manageable for our guys,” said Matt Rogers, president of Police Benevolent Association Local 24 in Atlantic City. “I get goose bumps when I pulled in and saw all of the cars and different uniforms.”
Officer Vadell was shot when he got out of his car but his partner returned fire and hit one of the suspects. He was taken to AtlantiCare Medical Center in Atlantic City in critical condition but announced by authorities Monday to be in a critical but stable condition as stated in Atlantic City Police Department Alert. Vadell is a nine-year veteran of the force,
After the shooting, all six men, including the one who was shot, ran away in different directions. The man who was shot, identified as Jerome Damon, 25, of Camden, was found dead a block away in the area of Missouri and Pacific avenues.
From a video footage released by authorities, it was discovered that the six men were actually 2 groups of 3 men, one group identified as robbery victims. These victims cooperated with the investigators and later on released.
New Jersey State Police arrested Chisolm and Cross. Both men were charged with two counts of attempted murder, three counts of robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and two counts of conspiracy to commit possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose.
When Chisolm appeared Tuesday in the Atlantic County courthouse, handcuffed and wearing prisoner’s clothes, he told the judge he would be seeking his own attorney. He previously served five years in jail after being convicted of robbery charges back on Sept. 8, 2008.
Cross, on the other hand, was confused over whether he had an attorney or not. He said “I’m not sure” when asked if he wants one appointed for him but after pausing for a moment, he said, “Yes, I want to get a lawyer” trying to keep his voice from cracking.
“Every day has been an improvement. It’s been good news,” Rogers said. “He’s a fighter. He’s a tough kid. All too often people want to dehumanize police and I don’t know what they want us to be but we’re humans underneath all of these,” “Unfortunately the young man became the victim of a very violent crime and he is on the road to recovery.”
Officer Vadell’s wife and family released a statement to thank individuals who have donated their time and resources, the law enforcement for the capture of those responsible, the officer who was partnered with him, the officers who got him to the hospital and the doctors and staff of AtlantiCare.
“I appreciate the thoughts, prayers and support of everyone in the community as we navigate this challenging next chapter of our lives while making sure Josh recovers,” the statement reads. “At this time, we would thank you for the continued respect of our privacy.”