Grand jury to review 2 police-involved shootings in Bergen County
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office will present two recent police-involved shootings to a grand jury, the office announced Tuesday.
The fatal shootings occurred in May in Hackensack and Lyndhurst.
Authorities say Elvin Diaz was shot and killed on May 21 when two Hackensack police officers drew and fired their weapons. The officers were responding to reports that Diaz had not checked in with his parole officer. He allegedly threatened police with a meat cleaver before he was shot.
Diaz's mother was relieved by news of the case going to a grand jury. Cecilia Diaz alleges officers just barged into the home.
"It's so crazy how people come in here and kill my son," she says. "That's so crazy."
Cecilia Diaz says she would like to speak face to face with the officers who fired at her son.
The second shooting going to the grand jury occurred on May 29 in Lyndhurst. Kevin Allen was shot and killed by two Lyndhurst officers in the Lyndhurst Public Library.
Allen was wanted for contempt of court and failing to show up for a work-release program. During a confrontation at the library, Allen was shot and killed. Police say he had a knife at the time.
Allen's shooting prompted a series of protests within the community. Allen's family members participated as well.
"We want to thank the prosecutor's office," says Robert Walker, Allen's cousin. "They made a concerted effort to do their due diligence."
"We appreciate our police, we appreciate law enforcement. They are very much needed," says another cousin, Jackie Handsford. "But we also want things done in a decent and respectful manner."
The prosecutor's office says it is still investigating a third police-involved shooting that occurred on June 11. In that shooting, 22-year-old Raymond Peralta-Lantigua was shot by police after they responded to a disturbance on Johnson Avenue.
The office says it is currently not ready to say if that case will go to a grand jury as well.
The announcement by the Bergen County prosecutor comes on the heels of an attorney general policy that was updated two weeks ago. It says a police shooting must go before the grand jury unless there are "undisputed facts" that show the use of force was justified.