Camden County’s homicide unit is investigating the shooting of an man with autism and his caregiver by an off-duty Camden, N.J. police officer, officials tell NBC10.com.
The 12-year-veteran of the Camden Police force is on administrative leave after the shooting at his home along the 2800 block of Arthur Avenue Friday afternoon, according to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
Investigators have not identified the officer since he has not been charged with a crime.
“Unless somebody is charged with a criminal offense, we’re not going to put the name out there,” Camden County prosecutor’s office spokesperson Jason Laughlin said.
However, sources identify the officer as Joseph Zeigler to NBC10’s Daralene Jones.
It was just before 4 p.m. Friday when the 21-year-old man with autism was dropped off at his Arthur Avenue home after returning from a special needs school in Cherry Hill, investigators say. Instead of going into his home, the man went across the street and began banging on Zeigler’s door.
Investigators say the man’s caregiver ran to bring the man home, but fearing his home was being broken into, Ziegler fired several shots at his front door. The 21-year-old was hit in the arm and is now out of the hospital. His caregiver was hit in the chest. He remains in critical condition at Cooper University Hospital, officials say.
No one has been charged in the shooting and no one has died. The homicide unit of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is handling the investigation and spokesperson Jason Laughlin says it’s routine -- that the prosecutor’s office oversees any case involving the use of force by law enforcement where serious injury occurs. Laughlin cited a 2006 directive issued by the New Jersey Attorney General.
Records show that in the past three years, six Camden officers have been charged with crimes such as official misconduct, drug possession and harassment.
Camden has about 79,000 residents. There were 983 burglaries and 681 robberies in Camden from January through late November 2012, according to the prosecutor’s office. As of February 18, 2013, if you look the monthly average, those crime stats are down slightly -- there have been 121 burglaries and 90 robberies.
The 21-year-old man has lived on the block for 17 years. Speaking to NBC10’s Daralene Jones today, his man’s aunt says she’d like to see a fair investigation.
“There should be a process in place, and we just have to wait and see how the process goes,” Zoraida Gonzalez says.