The Court continued in relevant part: Eventually, Detective Rashaan Johnson of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office (ECPO) told defendant and his father to drive to the ECPO for further questioning. Defendant rode with his father to the ECPO, but they were escorted there by Detective Johnson.
Earlier in the day, Detective Johnson had been dispatched to investigate a homicide. Joseph Flagg, the owner of Zakkiyah’s Café (the Café), had been shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt. When Detective Johnson arrived at the Café, he learned that a gunshot victim at University Hospital had reported being shot about four blocks away from the Café earlier that morning. Upon leaving the Café, Detective Johnson went to Newark PD, where he met defendant and his father and then escorted them to the ECPO for questioning.
At the ECPO, Detective Johnson placed defendant in an interview room apart from his parents. Defendant was told that the interview was being recorded but was not advised of his Miranda rights. According to Detective Johnson, he did not suspect defendant of killing Flagg or robbing the Café at that time. Defendant narrated his version of the events of the day, stating that he was shot while walking on the street and that he flagged down Steffon Byrd, who drove defendant to the hospital along with two other men. Defendant stated that he recognized the two other passengers but did not know their names. The interview concluded after twenty-seven minutes.
Defendant’s mother testified that she asked for the interview to cease because she saw an officer enter the interview room holding what she believed to be a forensic kit. Detective Johnson later matched the bullet removed from defendant’s ankle and blood swabbed from defendant’s pants to physical evidence found at the Café. According to Detective Johnson, it was at that point that defendant became a suspect in Flagg’s murder.
The phrase “According to Detective Johnson” signals that the Court found his claims to be incredible. Any reasonable interpretation of the underlying facts lends itself to the conclusion that the defendant was a suspect at the time that he was questioned on video.