A former Deptford police sergeant who fatally shot an alleged shoplifter, who authorities say tried to run him over while fleeing a strip mall, has been approved for “accidental disability retirement” and will receive a $6,200-a-month pension, records show.
Kevin Clements never returned to active duty after the June 9, 2018, incident, and a grand jury declined to recommend charges against him in the death of LaShanda Anderson, 36, of Philadelphia. It was the first fatal police-involved shooting in the history of the department.
Clements, a 19-year veteran, retired on March 31 and applied for “accidental disability retirement” benefits, according to township records obtained by The Inquirer. He was paid $111,292 in 2018 and $30,080 in 2019, records show.
A state pension board reviewed Clements’ retirement application and approved it for accidental disability in August, William Skaggs, a spokesperson for the state Treasury Department, said this week. Clements is collecting a $6,254 monthly pension, he said. The nature of his disability was not disclosed.
Efforts to reach Clements, 42, of Wenonah, were unsuccessful. He does not have an attorney. Township Solicitor Doug Long declined to comment. Police Chief Kevin Pancoast did not respond to telephone and email messages Friday.
According to state pension guidelines, accidental-disability-retirement benefits may be granted to public employees considered “permanently and totally disabled” who can prove that they are physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to perform their normal jobs “as a direct result of a traumatic event."
Woodbury civil rights attorney Stanley King, who represents the Anderson family, maintains the shooting was “unjust and uncalled for.” He said he intends to file a lawsuit against Clements and the department alleging the officer used excessive force.
“It doesn’t change what he did on that day,” King said Friday. “It doesn’t change our plans going forward.”
In an unrelated case, Clements has been accused of using excessive force while arresting a woman during a St. Patrick’s Day melee at a Deptford bar in 2018. A civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court in Camden alleges Clements punched Brittany Starzi in the face “without provocation or justification.”
In the Anderson incident, Clements shot her during an encounter at the Deptford Crossing Shopping Center. Anderson and two others were trying to get away from police after allegedly shoplifting $3,400 worth of merchandise at the Marshalls store, authorities say. All three had extensive criminal records, mostly for shoplifting.
Anderson was struck in the head and an arm, and died at the scene. Her alleged accomplices, Chanel Barnes, 38, and Raoul Gadson, 43, both of Philadelphia, eventually were taken into custody. Barnes is awaiting trial on a shoplifting charge, Gadson on robbery and assault charges.
Clements was placed on paid administrative leave for six months pending a review of the shooting by Gloucester County Prosecutor Charles Fiore. Fiore announced last November that a grand jury did not recommend charges against Clements.
Federal prosecutors are reviewing the shooting for possible civil rights violations and are investigating the use of deadly force by Clements. Fiore has said Clements feared for his life when he fired at Anderson’s leased Nissan Armada after she accelerated toward him and ignored his commands to stop.
In her lawsuit filed Oct. 26, Starzi, 31, of Westville, said she suffered a concussion and a broken nose and permanent damage and will need additional surgery.
Clements was working a special detail at the bar when police began ordering patrons to leave an hour before closing. Starzi has said Clements knocked her out with a single blow during an altercation. She was charged with aggravated assault of an officer and other charges, which were dropped in April 2019, the lawsuit said.
In his police report, Clements said Starzi appeared intoxicated and resisted his attempts to escort her out. He said he punched her with a closed fist after she “struck” his chin with her fingers.
The lawsuit alleges the use of excessive force was not an isolated incident. It accuses the department of negligent hiring and poor training of its officers.
In 2015, the township settled a lawsuit filed against Clements by Bonita Miranda of Clayton, who alleged Clements used excessive force during a traffic stop in 2013. Miranda, then 70, said Clements slammed her into the ground during a sobriety test.