‘My first priority was Josh,’ Atlantic City detective testifies of night partner was sho
Updated: Apr 13
Who an Atlantic City police officer saw the night his partner was shot was the focus of cross-examination as he testified at the attempted murder trial of two Cumberland County men Monday. Martel Chisolm and Demitris Cross are on trial for the Sept. 3, 2016 shooting that the state says started with the armed robbery of three Atlantic City teens and ended with alleged co-conspirator Jerome Damon dead and Officer Josh Vadell critically injured. The second day of trial included one of the teen victims from that night who ended his testimony by refusing to answer any more questions. “I remember what happened,” the teen said. “I don’t remember no faces. No clothing or descriptions.” Before that, Vadell’s partner, Thomas McCabe, took the stand. Now a detective with the department, talked about coming across the armed robbery in progress early Sept. 3, 2016, as he and Vadell patrolled on the midnight shift, known as Charlie. Vadell pointed it out first, and told McCabe to head down Arkansas Avenue near the Ruby Tuesday’s, he testified. McCabe said he went down the one-way street the wrong way for “the element of surprise.” He had on his lights but no siren for the same reason. What he came across were three teens being robbed. One, he recalled, had his fingers laced behind his head and his pants around his ankles. “Yo, they’re robbing us,” one of the teens yelled. McCabe said he got out of the car first, after locking eyes with one of the men standing near the victim. The suspect ran when he told him to stop. Then McCabe heard gunfire and his partner groaned. He looked over to see him shot. The shooter, later identified as Damon, continued firing. McCabe fired back, then turned to his partner. Damon had been hit, and would fall dead less than two blocks away. At that point, “my first priority was Josh,” McCabe said.
He didn’t call in suspect descriptions or to stop those fleeing, he called to get help for his partner. “Stay alive. Stay alive, Josh,” a man can be heard saying on audio from McCabe’s body camera. Vadell can be heard softly mumbling “Help me, help me, help me.” None of the body camera footage is being played at trial, because it was deemed as possibly being prejudicial. Brief scenes were seen without the jury present, as it was decided what small audio portion would be played so jurors could hear the description McCabe gave as they got to the hospital. Hospital staff could be seen far off with Vadell as McCabe spoke with officers, his right hand bloody from holding pressure on his partner’s head, can be seen as he gestures. The description he gave was of the shooter. McCabe said he also gave a description of the man in green, who the state previously identified as Chisolm. McCabe did not identify Chisolm in court. Chisolm’s attorney, Robin Lord, pointed to reports that showed McCabe didn’t give the description of the man in green until later. She questioned if there was ever a real identification before media reports would show pictures of the suspects. A cell phone specialist with the FBI also testified about where one phone may have been, but objections by Lord limited what he could tell, including who phones were found on. Lt. Thomas Finan was last testify, showing various surveillance video of that night and those involved. It included dashcam video from a jitney. He did not testify about who was in each video. His cross-examination will start when trial resumes Tuesday.