Bethlehem Press

Friday, January 17, 2020

DA clears Easton officer in shooting

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 by BERNIE O'HARE Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli would rather have an injured criminal than a dead police officer. At an Aug. 30 news conference, the prosecutor announced that no charges will be filed against an Easton police officer who recently shot a fleeing criminal suspect.

This shooting, which occurred Aug. 21, happened during an evening in which police received several complaints about shots fired. Officer Eric Campbell, on patrol in Easton's south side, spotted a group of individuals that included the suspected shooter. But when Officer Campbell exited his patrol car, one of them, Nelson Mayers, fled.

While giving chase, Officer Campbell saw Mayers put his hand in the waist area of his pants. Campbell saw a black object in Mayers' hand when he turned to face him. Mayers even extended his arm, which led Campbell to believe he held a handgun.

Campbell fired twice, with one shot hitting Mayers in the leg. Police then discovered that the object Mayers was holding was a black cell phone, not a gun.

At St. Luke's Hospital, medical staff discovered that Mayers had secreted heroin in his buttocks.

Morganelli ruled the shooting was justified. Officer Campbell was responding to night calls about gunshots being fired and had seen some of the casings. He knew that people in that area were armed. Mayers not only fled from Campbell, but acted in a way that led the officer to believe a gun was being pointed at him. And Easton has had a recent surge of shootings.

Police Chief Carl Scalzo, who sat with Morganelli during the news conference, noted that Officer Campbell is on paid administrative leave, and his department is still conducting its own investigation of the incident. He added that, before returning to duty, Campbell will receive a psychological evaluation.