RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBS 2) — A police officer was shot and killed inside a busy New Jersey restaurant. But how do you catch a killer when no one wants to come forward with information?
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan spoke with one man who’s being honored for standing up against crime and telling police what he saw.
It was emotional moment Friday when the mother of a slain police officer handed the man who turned in her son’s killer a $10,000 check from the National Police Defense Foundation — a reward to Eugene James for doing the right thing.
“Anybody with information like this, I can’t see how you can sleep. Just bring it to the attention to law enforcement,” James said.
Belinda Franklin, slain police officer’s mother said, “I would like to say thank you so very much for coming forward at the time that you did. God bless you and your family.”
Her son, Paterson Police Officer Tyron Franklin, was just 23 years old when he was gunned down during a robbery at a fast-food restaurant three years ago.
He left behind a little boy.
“He was an awesome son … best friend … good brother, loving brother and a fantastic father,” Belinda Franklin said.
James, a former correction officer, happened to be on the street when he overheard Tyron Franklin’s killer, Teddy Charlemagne, bragging about the murder.
“They don’t know where I am at anyway. Them guys in Paterson ain’t gonna come over here,” James said, remembering what he overheard.
That information led to Charlemagne’s conviction. Since then, James has been receiving death threats. He admitted he has feared for his life.
“Got people saying you’re going to get yours. Don’t mean nothing. Just don’t hurt my family y’all,” James said.
There were people inside the fast-food restaurant at the time of the shooting, but no one saw Charlemagne’s face. The National Police Defense Foundation said it’s rare for people to come forward, especially when it involves the murder of a police officer.
“One thing about law enforcement — you do the right thing we’ll support you 100 percent,” the Foundation’s Joe Occhipinti said.
“I’ll do it again if I had to,” James said.
James said he doesn’t consider himself a hero, but in every sense of the word he is.
“God will protect you from your enemies,” Belinda Franklin told James, for putting his own life on the line to catch a cop killer.
The National Police Defense Foundation relies on the generosity of corporations. Investors Savings Bank donated the reward money.
But James, a 57-year-old father of two, said he’ll use it to prevent his house from going into foreclosure.