Cumberland County men guilty of attempted murder in Atlantic City officer’s shooting

Two Cumberland County men were found guilty of attempted murder, aggravated assault and other crimes in a shooting that critically wounded an Atlantic City police officer.
Martel Chisolm and Demetris Cross didn’t have guns, the jury ruled in their verdict.
But they were responsible for the armed robbery that brought two police officers down an alley off Arkansas Avenue.
Officer Josh Vadell was shot as he exited his patrol car in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 3, 2016. His partner, Thomas McCabe, then returned gunfire, mortally wounding Jerome Damon, who was found dead about a block and a half away.
While Damon was the shooter, Chisolm and Cross were just as responsible since they were part of the original crime, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Seth Levy told the jurors.
And, after nearly two and a half days of deliberations, they agreed.
Chisolm’s and Cross’ families cried and screamed as the guilty verdicts were read, some holding on to one another as they left the courtroom before it was over.
“The law is not equal,” a woman yelled as she, too, left the courtroom.
“It will never be equal,” she could be heard screaming from the hallway.
The men were taken into custody and are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17.
Vadell, who has since retired from the department, said the verdict was bittersweet.
“I feel sadness for the family,” he said of the defendants’ loved ones. “It’s not like a celebratory thing. I’m not jumping up and down.”
The men were cleared of weapons offenses, which were the first charges read to the jury.
The list of “not guilty” responses was “nerve-wracking,” Levy admitted.
But he said he understood how the jury could find that the two men never possessed the gun, but were still part of the crime and the resulting shooting.
“It was a very smart, hard-working jury,” he said. “Probably one of the best I’ve been in front of.”
The juries spent three days asking questions and having testimony and evidence played back for them.
On Friday, they asked twice for information relating to the toxicology report of Damon, who had lethal levels of PCP, according to the numbers.
The second time, Chisolm seemed happy to hear the request.
His attorney, Robin Lord, had argued that Damon acted on his own and was high “out of his mind” and solely responsible for his actions.
After the verdict, Lord said there were several things wrong with the trial from jury selection to jury instruction, and that she is confident she will win an appeal.

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