By Robin Rieger
CAMDEN, NJ (CBS) — “I saw the police officer lying on the ground. There was another police officer trying to comfort him. I think everyone was in shock,” recalled Rick Punihaole, of Pennsauken.
He shot cell phone video of Camden police officer Sekou Reid-Bey lying in the street at Haddon Avenue and Federal Street moments after the 16-year veteran was struck by his own police cruiser. Police say 24-year-old Blake Bills and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Shayna Sykes, jumped into the cruiser Tuesday morning (see previous story). With Bills behind the wheel, the couple took off.
“There was only one way for that vehicle to escape, and that’s going through the officer,” said Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson.
He said Reid-Bey had pulled over this Jeep near the police station for an illegal right turn onto Haddon Avenue. As he was talking with the occupants of the Jeep, he heard his car door close.
“He looks back and sees someone in his squad car. He starts to immediately go back to his squad car, the person then accelerates out, he hits him flips over the hood,” explained Thomson.
Thomson said Reid-Bey radioed other officers that his car had been taken.
“Vehicle ends up in pursuit,” said Thomson, “down the admiral Wilson boulevard, through Pennsauken and Cherry Hill before heading west over the Ben Franklin Bridge.”
Fred Hoover of Gloucester City says he and his girlfriend had been pulled over in their Jeep. Hoover said the officer let him go to an appointment. When called his girlfriend a short time later…
“She goes, ‘You aren’t going believe what happened. A police officer got hit, someone stole his car,’” Hoover said.
Sources say Bills and Sykes had been wanted by Camden police since Sunday, when sources say they were pulled over for a motor vehicle violation in a known Camden drug area. While the officer had them pulled over, sources says Bills drove off and the couple fled.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office says numerous charges will be filed against the couple, including aggravated assault and theft.
The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission’s records indicate Bills’ license is currently suspended, and that he had five suspensions, including one for DUI. MVC records also indicate Bills has had numerous motor vehicle violations.
NJ State Police say their records indicate a number of responses to the Bills’ home in Pilesgrove concerning Blake Bills. The most recent, according to state police, was last July concerning a verbal dispute with his mother. No arrests were made at that time, and no charges were filed.