Mom: Roselle cop fell, and gun fired at son
Friday, April 03, 2009
BY ELIOT CAROOM AND ALEXI FRIEDMAN
The Roselle police officer who shot a suspect during a drug raid Wednesday night fired his weapon accidentally after slipping and falling, police told the injured man's mother.
Andre Doss, 27, of Linden remained hospitalized yesterday after he was shot once in the upper torso during the raid on his father's masonry business, according to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, which is investigating the case.
Roselle and Linden police officers were executing a court-authorized narcotics search warrant around 6:30 p.m. on S&D Construction in Roselle, and on Doss. The weapon was discharged shortly after officers executed the warrant, the prosecutor's office said.
Authorities say Doss was running a drug distribution operation out of the company, at 1173 St. Georges Ave., and that the warrant followed several weeks of police investigation. The business belongs to Doss' father, Sam Doss, but authorities would not say whether he had any role in the alleged drug operation. The business was closed yesterday, its metal gates rolled down.
The shooting was the second in three days in Union County involving a police officer firing on apparently unarmed suspects. Early Monday morning, Hillside police fired several shots at 25-year-old Fuquan Stribling during a confrontation in his car, striking him seven times, his relatives said. That case is still being investigated, and four Hillside police officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.
In Wednesday night's shooting, Doss' mother said a police officer told her the officer slipped and fell during the raid, causing his gun to fire, striking her son. The prosecutor's office was still investigating why the officer shot Doss, and could not confirm that account. Doss, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, was taken to University Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
"He's having a hard time breathing and talking because his lung was punctured, but he's basically okay," Doss' mother, Rhonda Julius, said yesterday from her home on Middlesex Street, near the construction company.
The officer who fired the single shot is a 19-year veteran of the force, Roselle Police Chief Gerard Orlando said. The officer, whose name was being withheld, was placed on leave and was treated for stress. Orlando would not comment on the specifics of the case, but said in a statement, "I am confident that a thorough and impartial investigation will be conducted by the prosecutor's office."
A few police officers were present during the search, but none of the other officers discharged their guns, according to the prosecutor's office.
Doss' father, Sam Doss, said he runs a legitimate business and denied any drug operation existed. Sam Doss, who was not there at the time, said his son, who was hobbled by a broken foot when police executed the warrant, was in the office at the time doing bookkeeping work.
"I can't see why this happened," Sam Doss said. The police, he added, "walked through the door and shot an unarmed man." The father, who has been at the location for four years, said police may have been confused because he often lets people in and out to use the bathroom.
Roselle Councilwoman Christine Dansereau, who chairs the public safety committee, said she would convene an emergency meeting with Mayor Garrett Smith and Councilman Yves Francois Aubourg, who is police commissioner, to discuss the issue. Dansereau wants to propose a citizen advisory committee made up of civic and religious leaders, to improve communication between the public and law enforcement.
"I'm extremely disturbed when any kind of incident occurs in public safety that involves our community and the police," she said. "The key thing is a safer community."
Doss' mother said she worries that because her son has an arrest record, the police will blame him for the shooting. Court records show Doss has two criminal convictions, one for drug possession and the other for aggravated assault with a weapon. "Because he has a record, they are going to try to make him a bad guy," she said yesterday.