ELIZABETH –An off-duty Newark police officer who was injured during a shootout involving car theft suspects Wednesday was apparently the victim of friendly fire, authorities said yesterday.
Jobani Dumeng, 27, was visiting his girlfriend and called police after hearing the sound of breaking windows outside her home. He stepped outside and suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the leg. Authorities believe he was the victim of friendly fire. Dumeng was treated at a local hospital and released a short time later.
“This off duty officer was being a good Samaritan, calling the local police to report a crime in progress,” said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. “I, along with everyone else, am grateful that he was not seriously injured. His return to service for the Newark Police Department will be a huge asset to the community.”
Police arrived at 800 block of Adams Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and encountered at least two suspects inside a stolen car, Romankow said.
According to the preliminary investigation, the suspects made several attempts to elude police and ignored several commands to turn the car off. Authorities said that the suspects’ vehicle crashed into a responding police car and into other vehicles and mounted the sidewalk before suddenly accelerating in reverse in the direction of officers who were on foot, approaching the vehicle.
At that point several weapons were discharged. Two suspects were struck by bullets.
One suspect, Tahir Adams, 22, of Irvington was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the vehicle, Erick Johns, 22, of Newark was injured in the incident and transported to University Hospital where he underwent surgery and is recovering, authorities said.
Johns is currently charged with aggravated assault, eluding and burglary, said Romankow.
Authorities had trouble identifying both suspects because neither was carrying identification at the time of the incident and state offices that could assist in identification were closed because of the recent blizzard.
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