Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Chalfont officer who allegedly faked shooting called 'brooding, moody'

Authorities say they have "no idea" why Jon Cousin allegedly staged the hoax. His mother died in the spring, and he had triplets 1 1/2-months ago, a friend said.

Chalfont officer who allegedly faked shooting called 'brooding, moody'

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Jon Cousin

The Chalfont police officer who allegedly lied about being shot in his bulletproof vest this week could be “incredibly brooding and moody,” a high school friend and fellow rock-band member said Wednesday.

Jon Cousin, 30, of New Britain Township “always seemed like he had some problems with things,” said Sean Breslin, 30, of Haddon Heights. “He was a good person, but he needed help.”

Cousin’s mother died in the spring, and he and his wife had triplets 1½ months ago, Breslin said.

“I can’t imagine what kind of pressure he and his family were under,” he added.

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Cousin was charged Tuesday with falsely reporting that he had been shot in the chest while on patrol at 3:16 a.m. Monday. He was being held in Bucks County prison on $150,000 bail, and must undergo a psychological evaluation, Chalfont Police Chief Frank Campbell said.

It is “very rare” for the police force of six officers and the chief to get a shooting call in the tiny borough of 4,000, Campbell said.

Cousin has been on the force for 3½ years, after serving as an officer for SEPTA. He was put on administrative leave with pay following his arrest, the chief said.

After Cousin called in that he had been shot in the Lenape Valley Swim Club parking lot, an officer from neighboring New Britain Township found him lying next to his patrol car, according to court documents. Cousin told police that he had been shot by a passenger in a maroon Cutlass and that he had returned three shots from his .45-caliber service pistol, according to the documents.

"It was absolutely a lie," county District Attorney David Heckler said after Cousin’s arrest.

The evidence didn’t add up, authorities said.

Investigators found three casings from Cousin’s pistol, but none from the suspect’s weapon, according to court documents. A resident of a nearby townhouse said she only heard three shots.

The most damning evidence involved Cousin’s bulletproof vest and the bullet retrieved from it, Heckler said.

The .380-caliber Corbon Pow’RBall bullet would have caused severe bruising, yet Cousin “literally was not injured,” Heckler said.

Investigators found a receipt in Cousin’s police locker for a Ruger .380 pistol that the officer had bought two years earlier to the day of the reported shooting, according to court documents.

They found the semiautomatic handgun in Cousin’s bedroom, and tests matched the gun with the bullet recovered from the vest, according to court documents.

Authorities have “no idea” why Cousin staged the hoax, Assistant District Attorney Robert James said Wednesday. “It’s still under investigation.”

Cousin’s wife, triplets and 8-year-old stepdaughter were not home midday Wednesday. A neighbor, Joe Triola, said the family has lived in the two-story house on quiet Meadow Road for about three years.

“He was a good guy. He would come over and talk about work,” said Triola, 23, who is a Montgomery County corrections officer. “When he wasn’t working, he was mainly a family man. He was a hard worker, landscaping his yard.”

Triola added, “I never would have thought he’d do something like that.”

But Breslin, who graduated from Haddonfield High School with Cousin in 2000, said the officer “could either be a ton of fun to be around, or he could be incredibly brooding and moody. That was one of the reasons the band broke up” after two years.

The four-man band, Burn Kate, had Cousin on drums, Breslin  as lead guitarist, and another guitarist and a bass player. Cousin’s nickname was Monkey.

“Our fans were mostly under 21, so we played in church basements and VFW halls, and occasionally in Philly bars,” Breslin said.

The band also produced a 10-song CD, Big Rock Show, in 2002, he said.

“We were all surprised he went into law enforcement,” Breslin said, referring to his fellow band members.

Yet, Cousin “was always the type who was drawn to the authority and respect of being a police officer,” Breslin said. “He also was drawn to the physical authority – I think he wanted to feel in control of his life.”

With the band, Cousin wasn’t involved in booking performances “and didn’t feel in control of things,” Breslin said. “That’s one of the reasons he may have gone into law enforcement.”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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