Probationary police officer commended for their peaceful arrest of armed man
Two rookie Newark police officers are being commended for their work to peacefully arrest a man who pulled a gun during an argument at a gas station.
The entire interaction was recorded on the officers’ body cameras during the altercation on New Year’s Eve. Probationary officers Tianna Contreras and Amanda Cabrera were with their training Officer Alexis Rivera. They were driving near the Exxon Gas Station on Springfield Avenue as part of their normal patrol.
The officers say that they heard an argument outside the gas station and saw a man pull out a gun. They stopped and ordered the man, identified as 36-year-old Laquan Walker, to get on the ground.
"I think he was so involved with his argument that he didn't even notice us,” Contreras says.
As the three officers were yelling at Walker to get down, he is seen circling and working towards Contreras. The officers say that they saw the suspect subtly hand off his gun to a friend standing behind him. At that point, their classroom training kicked in.
"I was more worried, especially for [Contreras] because he was walking toward her,” Cabrera says. “I didn't know what he was going to do to her.”
"Usually when the walk around in circles they're looking to flee,” Contreras says.
The officers say that they were ready to give chase, but Walker didn’t run. He surrendered instead.
The officers’ actions earned them praise from Newark Police Department superiors.
"It shows our officers remain calm, professional. They took command of the situation and it was resolved peacefully,” says Captain Brian O’Hara.
O'Hara runs the Community Focus Team which helps new officers with on the job training. Contreras and Cabrera are two of 48 officers in that program. They graduated from the police academy in July.
"Hopefully we'll continue to have more of these videos so the public can see how our officer are actually performing,” O’Hara says.
This summer’s graduating police academy class had 31 women in it – the largest class of female police recruits Newark has ever experienced.