Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that an Essex County Grand Jury has indicted Rasul McNeil-Thomas, 20, of Newark for first degree murder, first degree conspiracy to commit murder, first and second degree carjacking, first degree attempted murder, second degree aggravated assault, two second degree weapons charges, and third degree child endangerment in connection with the death of off-duty Newark Police Officer William Johnson.
At approximately 9:45 p.m. on May 26, 2011, the unarmed Johnson, 45, was waiting to purchase a slice of pizza at the Texas Fried Chicken and Pizza restaurant on Lyons Avenue. McNeil-Thomas fired a gun multiple times, shooting Johnson and two other people.
Johnson was not the intended target in this incident. It appears that McNeil-Thomas was targeting an individual, who was involved in an earlier confrontation with the defendant’s family.
The car used in the shooting had been stolen at gunpoint shortly before the shootings and was abandoned a short time afterwards. The two other victims included a 19-year-old woman who had a toddler with her. The woman was shot in the shoulder. A 21-year-old man was shot in the stomach. Both survived the shootings. Johnson was taken to University hospital where he later died.
Johnson was a 16-year veteran of the Newark Police Department and a father of two daughters.
McNeil-Thomas is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the indictment on July 3, 2012 before the Honorable Peter J. Vazquez, J.S.C.
These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they plead guilty or are found guilty in a court of law.