Lawrence Campbell, a 27 year old man who had recently been released from jail in January from a drug arrest, entered a Walgreens in Jersey City and attacked a security guard in the front of the store. Campbell was able to steal the gun from the guard then told the people in the store to watch the news because he was “going to be famous.”
A 23 year old rookie police officer, Melvin Santiago, responded to an armed robbery at a 24 hour pharmacy. Campbell shot and killed Santiago. A group of officers later reached the scene and opened fire at Campbell.
There are mixed opinions in the city over the two deaths. Many Jersey City residents, especially his wife, Angelique Campbell is devastated that the police officers had shot and killed Campbell, while on the other hand, Mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop and Police Director James Shea are calling people that are making comments about Campbell’s death, “ignorant.”
Residents are coming together to mourn the death of Campbell by writing on two giant tee-shirts taped to the brick wall, empty alcohol bottles, and candles. Santiago has a fairly smaller and temporary memorial by the Walgreens store.
Jersey City has been economically improving on one side, the one that’s closest to the Hudson River, but the other side, where the Walgreens and Campbell’s neighborhood is located; it is still facing violent crimes. Police officers have been monitoring that side of the city.
Shea and Fulop are making measures to reduce crimes in Jersey City, and luckily, the numbers have been improving. For the first three months of 2014, violent crimes have reduced 22% compared to the same three months in 2013. It has also been reported a total of 15 homicides since the beginning of 2014.
The death of the young Santiago is convincing some lawmakers that there should be a stricter punishment for those who kill police officers, death. The death penalty has been debated in New Jersey and even nationally for over decades. The first person to be sentenced the death penalty was in 1640, the last: 1973. The death penalty statute was eventually repealed in 2007 under Governor Jon Corzine. Assemblyman Ron Dancer is in favor of having the death penalty for those who murder a police officer, a child, or engage in terrorist activities. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka believes otherwise, “My personal opinion is that I don't believe the death penalty is a deterrent to crime here in the city of Newark.”
The death penalty will definitely have a divided opinion throughout the state of NJ due to the nature of the penalty. Many feel opposed to it due to nature of the crime violating their religious views. Some on the other hand, just want quick justice after having their loved one, an officer, a child, or a victim to a terrorist act, was killed. The death penalty is still up for debate and no doubt it will probably take months before it finally gets resolved. Lawmakers want a tougher penalty for those that murder a police officer or commits heinous crimes to innocent residents.
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"Idewalk Memorial Honors Lawrence Campbell, Accused Killer of N.J. Officer Melvin Santiago." NJ.com. The Associated Press, 15 July 2014. Web. 30 July 2014.
Bonamo, Mark. "PolitickerNJ.com." Newark Mayor Baraka: In Aftermath of Jersey City Cop Killing, Death Penalty Not a Deterrent. PolitickerNJ, 22 July 2014. Web. 30 July 2014.