TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a Camden man has been indicted by a state grand jury on charges including attempted murder for allegedly firing a handgun at state troopers who allegedly caught him committing an armed robbery in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in July 2011.
Joshua A. Polanco, 21, of Camden, was charged Friday, Dec. 7, in an eight-count indictment with attempted murder (1st degree), robbery (1st degree), three counts of aggravated assault (one 2nd degree; two 3rd degree), possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (2nd degree), unlawful possession of a weapon (2nd degree), and resisting arrest (3rd degree). Deputy Attorney General Philip Mogavero presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice.
“New Jersey State Troopers put their lives on the line each day to protect all of us,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We must do our part to make them safer by aggressively prosecuting anyone who threatens them with a deadly weapon. We allege that Polanco fired three times at troopers after they interrupted him during the commission of an armed robbery.”
“Anyone who fires on a police officer should face stern justice, regardless of whether the officer is wounded,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Polanco faces a charge of attempted murder, which would carry a sentence of 30 years to life in state prison upon conviction.”
On July 20, 2011, five members of the New Jersey State Police Metro South Unit were traveling in the 2000 block of Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden about 5:20 p.m. when they allegedly observed Polanco committing an armed robbery in the parking lot of a restaurant. Polanco was allegedly pointing a 9mm semi-automatic handgun at the head of the victim and forcing him to the pavement. It is alleged that the troopers pulled into the lot in order to stop the robbery and apprehend Polanco. They exited their vehicle with their guns drawn and shouted for Polanco to drop his weapon. Polanco allegedly turned and fired his handgun twice at the troopers. The troopers returned fire, and Polanco allegedly fled, firing his gun a third time at the troopers. Nobody was struck in the exchange of gunfire. The troopers issued a radio alert, and Polanco was arrested nearby by the Camden City Police Department a short time later.
The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team. Detective Anne Hayes led the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice. Under an Attorney General directive, the Shooting Response Team, made up of deputy attorneys general and detectives from the Division of Criminal Justice and the State Police Major Crime Unit, are dispatched to the scene to investigate when a police-involved shooting includes state troopers or county officers.
First-degree crimes carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000; second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000; and third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. If convicted of attempted murder, Polanco could face 30 years to life in prison.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County, who assigned it to Camden County.