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N.J. man shot by police being investigated by former judge who sentenced him to prison

Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo, whose office is investigating the police shooting Saturday of Edmond Brown, sentenced Brown for a crime in 2000 - when she was a Superior Court judge.

Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo, whose office is investigating the police shooting Saturday of Edmond Brown, sentenced Brown for a crime in 2000 - when she was a Superior Court judge.

But Colalillo does not plan to recuse herself from the investigation, the Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday after her connection to Brown was discovered in a state database of convictions.

On Saturday, authorities said, Brown, of Camden, drove away during a traffic stop, crashed his vehicle into a parked car, and then became involved in a "brief struggle" with a Haddon Township police officer, who shot Brown once, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Brown was treated at Cooper University Hospital and charged with aggravated assault, eluding, and hindering apprehension. He is held at the Camden County Jail on $50,000 bail, officials said.

As prosecutor, Colalillo will determine whether to present Brown's case to a grand jury, which would review whether the officer who shot Brown used justified force.

"All investigations have to be approved by Prosecutor Colalillo," said the office's spokesman, Robert English. The state can also review Colalillo's decision and make its own recommendations.

The Prosecutor's Office, citing the ongoing case, declined this week to specify what happened during the "brief struggle" between Brown and the officer.

Colalillo, who was not available for an interview Wednesday, was a judge for 21 years in Camden County before Gov. Christie appointed her as prosecutor in 2014.

On July 14, 2000, she approved a plea agreement that put Brown behind bars for a robbery in 1996, according to state records. He was paroled in 2008, according to the Department of Corrections.

State guidelines say that when police use deadly force, the prosecutor handling the investigation must determine "whether any actual or potential conflict of interest exists that might undermine public confidence in the impartiality and independence of the investigation."

The Prosecutor's Office, saying it followed those guidelines, recently alerted the state Attorney General's Office to Colalillo's sentencing of Brown.

The Attorney General's Office, which declined to comment Wednesday, found no conflict of interest, according to Camden County First Assistant Prosecutor Dana Petrone, who spoke to The Inquirer.

Asked whether the 2000 sentencing could influence Colalillo's decision on Brown's present case, Petrone said no.

"Sixteen years ago," Petrone said. "No, no. The attorney general has already decided that there's no conflict."

The Prosecutor's Office has offered few details on Brown's shooting beyond a statement released Saturday.

It said Brown was pulled over around 9:40 a.m. near Route 130 and Alabama Road, on the border of Haddon Township and Camden, and that he drove away as the officer tried to identify him.

Richard Jackson, a technician at Southern Pest Control, said he did not hear the commotion but saw at least a dozen squad cars across the street afterward.

"I didn't even know what was going on," he said.

The force of the crash badly damaged the parked vehicle and pushed it onto a lawn, Jackson said. It's unclear who owns that vehicle.

Brown had an outstanding warrant, but the Prosecutor's Office has not said what it is for or if it was reason for the stop.

The office also declined this week to identify the officer, who has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

In other cases of police-involved shootings in South Jersey, prosecutors have recused themselves due to conflicts of interest, usually with the officer who opened fire.

In Cumberland County, Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae had a deputy in her office handle the case of Jerame Reid, 36, who was fatally shot by a Bridgeton police officer in December 2014. The officer, Braheme Days, had coached basketball for Webb-McRae's son. Days was eventually cleared.

Last month, the New Jersey Senate also approved a bill that would require the state Attorney General's Office, instead of county prosecutors, to investigate deaths of individuals at the hands of police. The legislation must go through the Assembly next.

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