Officer Injured While Chasing Shoplifting Suspect

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LINDEN – A Linden police officer was injured while chasing a shoplifting suspect on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

At 5:32 p.m. on Nov. 14, officers were sent to Target on West Edgar Road when store personnel reported a shoplifting in progress. Loss prevention told police that they saw three men cut open the package of a GPS system valued at $189 and walk out of the store with the merchandise.

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Officers stopped three men in the parking lot, but one of the suspects broke free from Officer Matthew Damatta and ran towards West 15th Street, authorities said. During the chase through the parking lot, a small silver vehicle had to stop abruptly to avoid hitting the suspect. It collided with Damatta, whose chest and left knee struck the driver’s door of the vehicle, police said.

Damatta was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Rahway, where he was treated and released. He reported off-duty for the remainder of his shift, according to police.

Officers arrested the two other suspects, Andres Vicente Rosero, 25, and John Henry Valencia-Rendon, 23, both of Elizabeth, police said. They were charged with shoplifting and released on summonses pending a Dec. 14 court date.

Police recovered the GPS unit near the suspect’s vehicle, authorities said.

The Union County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit assisted in the search for the escaped suspect.


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