Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Concludes Use of Force was Justified inJune 17, 2018 Art All Night Festival in Trenton

TRENTON ( MERCER) The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has completed its investigation into the June 17, 2018 use of force at the Art All Night festival by two detectives and two officers of the Trenton Police Department, and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified. The MCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the then applicable Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directives (July 28, 2015 Attorney General Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations and the Independent Prosecutor Directive 2019-4) (“Directives”).1 Pursuant to those Directives, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with MCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officers was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with MCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.
The incident occurred on June 17, 2018, at the Art All Night event being held at 635 South Clinton Avenue, in the city of Trenton. At approximately 3:25 a.m., the Mercer County Homicide Task Force (HTF) was activated to investigate an officer-involved
1 Because this incident occurred prior to January 30, 2019, presentation to the grand jury was not required under Senate Bill 1036, which modified N.J. Statutes 52:17B-107, and requires the Attorney General to conduct investigations of fatal police encounters and present the them to the Grand Jury.

shooting that occurred in the indicated area. The investigation, which encompassed investigative reporting, statements of officers and witnesses, radio transmissions, photographs, camera footage and physical evidence, revealed the following facts:
On June 16, 2018, members of the Trenton Police Department were assigned to work the Art All Night (AAN) event taking place at the Roebling Wire Works building, located at 635 S. Clinton Avenue, in Trenton. This annual event was scheduled from 8 a.m. on June 16, 2018, to 8 a.m. on June 17, and historically attracts thousands of people.
Trenton Police detectives were scheduled to work the event from 8 p.m. on June 16 to 3 a.m. on June 17. Officers described a larger than usual crowd and noted that as the night progressed, multiple fights occurred throughout the venue. To assist with crowd issues, a Trenton sergeant and lieutenant requested additional detectives and officers to assist.
At approximately 2:15 a.m., officers were advised that the event was being shut down until the following morning. As a result, officers began requesting the crowd move toward Dye Street. Officer 1 and another officer stood in front of the Roebling Wire Works building to prevent patrons from re-entering. Officer 1 was standing approximately 10 feet away from the front entrance doors when he observed the doors open and saw patrons attempting to leave the Roebling Wire Works building. At this time, Officer 1 heard gunshots coming from inside the building. Officer 1 turned around, looked inside and observed a black male, wearing a dark shirt with a pattern and blue jeans, who was later identified as Tahaij Wells. According to Officer 1, Wells appeared taller than the crowd of people. Officer 1 believed that Mr. Wells may have been standing on something to give him extra height. Officer 1 continued to observe Mr. Wells and saw him shooting a handgun in a downward position into the crowd. Mr. Wells shot into the crowd approximately 10 times. Officer 1 drew his firearm as Mr. Wells ran in his direction. Mr. Wells was leaning to the right with his hand elevated as he held the handgun. Officer 1 fired his weapon at Mr. Wells multiple times as Mr. Wells continued to move and would not show his hands. Mr. Wells collapsed as officers yelled “cover” and moved in to handcuff him.
At the same time, Officer 2, who was positioned near the front entrance doors of the Roebling Wire Works building, heard multiple gunshots from inside the building and saw patrons running from the area. As Officer 2 ran toward the left side of the Roebling Wire Works building, he also observed Mr. Wells. Fearing for his safety and that of others in the area, Officer 2 also discharged his police-issued firearm twice at Mr. Wells and heard additional gunfire in the area as well. Officer 2 then observed Mr. Wells fall to the ground. Officer 2 holstered his weapon and handcuffed Mr. Wells with the assistance of

Detective 1. Mr. Wells was later pronounced deceased. Two firearms were recovered near Mr. Wells’ body.
Like Officer 2, Detective 1 was positioned near the front entrance doors of the Roebling Wire Works building at approximately 2:15 a.m. Detective 1 was positioned with Officer 1 when he heard multiple gunshots coming from inside of the building. Patrons began screaming and running out of the building. Detective 1 drew his police-issued firearm to a “low ready position” while scanning the crowd. (A low ready position is handgun drawn and ready to shoot.) Detective 1’s attention was drawn to Mr. Wells coming out of the building with a gun in his hand pointed in an upward position. Detective 1 perceived Mr. Wells as a threat and fired his police-issued firearm at him. Mr. Wells fell to the ground with his hands in his waistband. Detective 1 began to verbally give Mr. Wells commands as he moved toward him. Detective 1 holstered his weapon and Officer 2 assisted him with handcuffing Mr. Wells. Detective 1 heard additional gunshots and “chaos” around him. He drew his firearm and continued to scan the crowd.
Detective 2 was situated in the area near the front entrance doors of the Roebling Wire Works building. Detective 2 observed Officer 1 by the front entrance doors of the Roebling Wire Works building attempting to move patrons out of the area. Detective 2 closed one of the front entrance doors of the building. He was advised by security that there was a physical altercation inside of the building. Detective 2 took a few steps into the building when he heard multiple gunshots. He drew his police-issued firearm and began scanning for the threat as he moved backward into Dye Street. Detective 2’s attention was drawn to a black male running from inside of the building toward Dye Street with a handgun in a low ready position. This individual was later identified as Davone White. Detective 2 observed Officer 1 discharge his weapon at Mr. Wells as Mr. Wells continued running toward Dye Street and stumbled to the ground. As this occurred, Mr. White turned around, raised his handgun and pointed it in Detective 2’s direction. Detective 2 fired his weapon until Mr. White fell to the ground and was no longer a threat. Detective 2 then approached Mr. White. A handgun and an extended magazine that Detective 2 observed in Mr. White’s hand were collected near Mr. White’s location. Mr. White survived.
In response to the gunfire and commotion, Detective 3 radioed Trenton Police Communications, advised of the gunshots fired, and requested additional units to respond. In response to the gunshots, Detective 3 and Officer 3 proceeded into the Roebling Wire Works building with their weapons drawn and began ordering everyone to the ground.
While inside the Roebling Wire Works building, Detective 3 and Officer 3 attended to several gunshot victims. They located a victim, later identified as Amir Armstrong, on

the floor with a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. In order to assess his condition, Officer 3 and Detective 3 began to cut away Mr. Armstrong’s white t-shirt and observed a silver revolver tucked into the right side of his waistband. Detective 3 removed the revolver from Mr. Armstrong’s waistband and secured it. Detective 3 then utilized Mr. Armstrong’s white t-shirt to apply pressure to his wound while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel on scene. Mr. Armstrong survived. The investigation revealed Mr. Armstrong was not shot by police but had been shot during the altercation in the building.
At approximately 2:45 a.m., Trenton Police Officers 4 and 5 were detailed to 635 S. Clinton Avenue on the report of shots fired. Upon their arrival, they observed people running from the scene and began to assist Trenton Emergency Medical Services with multiple gunshot victims. Officer 4 proceeded to the front entrance of the Roebling Wire Works building near Dye Street and observed multiple officers crouched down near Mr. Wells. Officer 4 stated that Mr. Wells appeared to be handcuffed and was lying face down by the door.
Mr. Wells was transported by paramedics to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. White was also transported by paramedics to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. At approximately 3:17 a.m., Mr. Wells was pronounced dead. Additional injured individuals were located and transported either by ambulance or by the police to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for further treatment.
Trenton police officers secured the area. In addition, they secured the surrounding streets in the area of 635 S. Clinton Avenue. While securing the surrounding areas, Trenton police officers located a red, four-door 2007 Pontiac G6 bearing a temporary New Jersey tag with heavy damage to the rear door. The owner of the vehicle was later identified. She reported that she was carjacked by an individual with a handgun during the Art All Night event. Despite investigation, no subject was linked to this occurrence and thus no charges were filed. No direct link to the shooting in the Roebling Wire Works building could be gleaned from the investigation.
At approximately 4:45 a.m., a sergeant with the Mercer County Homicide Task Force authorized all officers with body worn cameras to turn off their equipment. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office chief of detectives was advised of the investigation.
Approximately 75 potential witnesses were located inside of the Roebling Wire Works building. Detectives from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office interviewed the witnesses. All witnesses described hearing multiple gunshots; however, most could not identify any suspects or provide additional information pertaining to the investigation. It was determined that one bystander had been struck by a bullet fired by an officer. That bystander survived.

The Shot Spotter gunfire detection system captured 26 gunshots fired near the Roebling complex. This is located in the immediate area of where Trenton police officers responded to gunfire and observed Mr. Wells and Mr. White armed with handguns fleeing from the Roebling Wire Works building.
At approximately 7 a.m., the New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Unit responded to the Roebling Wire Works building and processed the scene. Items collected at the crime scene included, but were not limited to, the following firearms: a Glock 22 handgun with magazine, discovered in the garbage can near the building’s front entrance doors; a black handgun with a large-capacity magazine located in close proximity to Davone White; a JA 380 handgun located in the parking lot of 635 S. Clinton Avenue; and a Taurus revolver located on Amir Armstrong.
In conformance with Trenton Police Department policy, a blood draw was taken from Officers 1 and 2 as well as Detectives 1 and 2. Laboratory analysis of all of the blood samples yielded negative findings for either ethyl alcohol or any impairing drugs at the time of this incident.
As a result of the investigation, Amir Armstrong was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and receiving stolen property. He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to certain persons not to possess a firearm and is awaiting sentencing. Davone White was charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine, aggravated assault and certain persons not to possess a weapon. He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and is also awaiting sentencing.
Applying the Directives to the undisputed material facts outlined above, the use of force by Detectives 1 and 2, and Officers 1 and 2, was legally justified. Under the Attorney General’s Use of Force Guidelines (Rev. June 2000), an officer may use deadly force when he or she reasonably believes it is “immediately necessary to protect the officer . . . from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.” Sec. I.B.1. The New Jersey Criminal Code also justifies the use of deadly force in self-defense where “the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily harm.” N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4b(2). N.J.S.A. 2C:3-5 governs use of force for the protection of others, and provides that use of force to protect another is justified where: (1) it would have been justified to protect the actor himself under N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4; (2) under the circumstances as the actor reasonably believed them to be, the person whom he seeks to protect would be justified in using such force; and (3) the actor reasonably believes his intervention is necessary for the protection of such other person. The law defines a “reasonable belief” as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and ntelligence situated as the actor was situated. The detectives and officers believed that discharging their weapons was necessary for the protection of their lives and the lives of the many people present. An independent analysis of the undisputed material facts led to the determination that the beliefs of the detectives and officers were reasonable, and the use of force in this matter was justified pursuant to all applicable laws and the Attorney General Guidelines. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the Directive.

Person transported to the hospital after crashing into Hospital gate

TRENTON NJ ( Mercer) Trenton emergency services respond to the area of Fuld Street and New York Ave Tuesday night just before 12:00 Am where a Suv had crashed into a gate to Capital Health medical center, Trenton firefighters cut the gates away to gain access for Ems personal. Trenton Ems and Capital Health paramedics transported the individual to the trauma center within feet away.

Calhoun Street bridge closed after Fire department rescue man in Delaware River on the rocks

TRENTON NJ (Mercer) Trenton fire department Marine unit along with Rescue 1 responded to the Calhoun Street bridge to assist New Jersey state police with getting a male who was on a rock in the middle of the River close to the bridge back to land Tuesday night. Firefighters and Police had a difficult time getting the male to get into the recue boat. NJSP got the male aboard the rescue boat around 8:50 Pm and was then transported to Capital Health trauma center. The Calhoun street bridge has been reopened.

Trenton Police Director Should Be Held Accountable

City Resident: Yesterday my cousin Carmen lost her eldest son to gun violence on Spring Street. My condolences to my cousin. My heart is broken for you.

As I drove through the City of Trenton I thought how? What do you see? Why aren’t we angry? She lost her baby, her son and IT COULD’VE been YOU or YOURS!! 

Where Is The Outrage?! Are we so accustomed to death happening around us that we can only be  thankful that it wasn’t one of our own? We must demand change! Now! Today!! Where Is The Police Presence? Not after a death! But for deterrence! Where is the Mayor and the Police Director?! We should be holding our City Officials accountable! We need police presence on our city streets; Spring Street! Stuyvesant Avenue! Centre Street! To name a few! When will our Police Director and/or Mayor hold a public conference and tell us what they are doing to make a real difference in the City Of Trenton? What is the plan? So far all we see are headlines of another lost life! I have questions that need answers!! The residents of the City of Trenton should be standing up and demanding change! 

We are losing our babies to the violence! Let’s go City Residents!!! Let’s demand change! Trenton Police Director where are you???? What are you doing for the City of Trenton??? I don’t know about you but I’m knocking on doors!!! The Mayor and The Police Director I’m knocking!!!

Edna E Roman

Mercer County homicide task force investigating Homicide in West Ward

TRENTON ( Mercer) The Mercer County Prosecutors office confirmed Saturday morning they are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred in the 200 block of Spring Street Friday night around 11:00 Pm. Trenton police responded to a Shot Spotter activation around 11 p.m. The victim, a 35 year old male, was located in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Mercer County Homicide Task Force is investigating.

Victim has been identified as Hussain Abdullah, 35, of Trenton.

NJ State police investigating serious crash that injured 3 on I-195 in Hamilton

Hamilton Township ( Mercer) Nj State police are investigating a serious crash Thursday night after a utility truck collided with construction crews working on the side of the highway on I-195 East bound at exit 3 Approximately 3 people were transported to the hospital with serious injuries one driver had to be extracted from one of the vehicles. Police have the right lane shut down for the investigation.

Story developing stay tuned for more information.

Mayor Gusciora Vetoes Municipal Election Date Change Ordinance

Trenton, N.J. – Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that he has vetoed City Ordinance 20-51, which would move the City of Trenton’s nonpartisan regular municipal elections from May to November, starting in 2022.

“While I commend City Council’s desire to improve voter participation in the Capital City, we need to take great care before we change the date of our elections, especially considering that this ordinance would extend the current term for our elected officials,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Not only do we need more information concerning potential costs of this move and whether it would actually increase voter turnout, this is ultimately a decision that should be approved by our residents via referendum. If we are truly serious about increasing participation in our electoral system, then we should not deprive Trentonians the opportunity to be heard in this matter.”

On May 5, 2020, Council passed a related initiative (City Ordinance 20-14), which would move the election but left approval to the voters through a referendum. Ordinance 20-51 repealed that measure and moved the election by legislative vote only.

NJ State Police Arrest Seven after Year-Long Investigation

 The New Jersey State Police have arrested six men and one woman for various drug and firearms offenses after a year-long cooperative investigation with the Trenton Police Department.

In September of 2019, the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit, Opioid Enforcement Task Force, and the Trenton Police Department began surveilling multiple individuals suspected of dealing narcotics in the Trenton and Ewing Township areas of Mercer County.

During the investigation, detectives arrested the suspects at various times and locations. Throughout the operation, the Ewing Township Police Department provided assistance on numerous occasions. Most notably, on Friday, July 10, 2020, a Ewing Township patrol officer who was assisting with the operation was dragged by Daniel Peyton when he fled in a Chevrolet Impala after being stopped by detectives on Stokes Avenue in Ewing Township. Peyton was later apprehended in the area of Shelton Avenue and Chelmsford Court.

As a result of the year-long operation, detectives seized more than 4 kilograms of cocaine, 1 bundle of heroin, 30 grams of marijuana, a 9mm handgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a 9 mm assault weapon, 2 high capacity magazines, hollow point ammunition, a 2016 Toyota Highlander, a 2010 BMW X5, and more than $313,000 cash.

“We will never cease in our collaborative efforts to stop the drug dealers who are fueling addiction and violence in Trenton,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “At the same time, we are committed to combating the corrosive influence of these criminals on a second front by working with the community to develop programs for the young people of Trenton that will help them choose a strong and healthy course in life.”

“This operation targeted individuals who were profiting off of addiction and violence and whose actions stood in stark contrast to the countless members of the community who work tirelessly every day to strengthen and build safer neighborhoods,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to aggressively target drug dealers and violent criminals, but we will also continue to work with our community partners to implement

educational and outreach programs to stay connected to our youth who far too often fall victim to addiction and gun violence.”

“This case demonstrates what we can achieve when we bring the full weight of local and state law enforcement against individuals who target our communities with addiction and violence,” said Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley. “Trenton residents deserve to feel safe in their own neighborhoods, and I commend the officers and detectives who worked tirelessly on their behalf by ridding our streets of multiple firearms and thousands of doses of dangerous narcotics.”

The following were charged:

David Craig, 32, Trenton, N.J.

  • eluding
  • unlawful possession of a handgun
  • certain persons not to possess a firearm
  • possession of hollow point ammunition
  • possession of cocaine
  • possession with the intent to distribute cocaine
  • possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense
  • possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a public park

Davon Craig, 27, Trenton, N.J.

  • unlawful possession of a handgun
  • certain persons not to possess a firearm
  • possession of hollow point ammunition possession of cocaine
  • possession with the intent to distribute cocaine
  • possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense
  • possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a public park
  • money laundering

Davae Craig, 31, Trenton, N.J.

  • possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute
  • possession of heroin
  • possession of a high capacity magazine
  • money laundering

Deesade Meyers, 27, Ewing N.J.

  • unlawful possession of an assault weapon
  • unlawful possession of a high capacity magazine
  • money laundering

Daniel Sabree, 46, Bristol, PA

  • with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana

Daniel Peyton, 55, Westampton, N.J.

  • possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute
  • money laundering
  • aggravated assault (charged by Ewing Township Police Department)
  • eluding (charged by Ewing Township Police Department)

Wayne Bessant, 39, Trenton, N.J.

  • possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute
  • money laundering

The case is being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice. Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty.