SHOUT OUT: Coinciding with Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Matlosz’s 32nd birthday today, an elderly man who went into a witness protection program after his testimony helped convict the man who shot and killed him is receiving a $10,000 reward from the National Police Defense Foundation.
NJPD Executive Director Joseph Occhipinti announced the Safe Cop cash payment this morning to “a senior citizen whose critical information and trial testimony led to the arrest and conviction of Jahmell Crockham.”
The man, whose identity was being held for his safety, “is truly an American hero whose many sacrifices included being placed in the state witness protection program that resulted in a financial loss and psychological toll on his family,” Occhipinti said. “[He] deserves a valor award for not being intimidated for one moment by this career gang member and assuring that truth and justic prevailed in convicting a cop killer.”
Crockham was sentenced to life in prison for killing Matlosz on Jan. 14, 2011. The NPDF posted the reward the following day, at the request of Lakewood police, Occhipinti said.
A massive manhunt ended on Jan. 16, when authorities caught Crockham hiding in a friend’s Camden apartment.
Established 10 years ago, Safe Cop provides up to $10,000 for public information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who shoots at a law enforcement officer anywhere in the U.S.
It’s been instrumental in the arrests of several suspects in police shootings nationwide, including the killing of Paterson Police Officer Tyron Franklin during a January 2007 robbery at a fast-food eatery in the city.
Crockam was wanted for another murder that occurred a few months earlier when Matlosz pulled up in his cruiser to a Lakewood apartment complex and motioned him over.
Then-Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said Crockam then pulled a gun from his pocket and shot the young officer three times from point-blank range rather than risk going to prison.
Matlosz “was killed for no other reason than that he had a badge and a uniform,” she said.