State AG releases police body camera footage from deadly shooting in Ventnor
WARNING: The following video may be disturbing to some viewers.
The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General has released police body camera footage of a deadly shooting in Atlantic County involving police last month. It is the second week in a row that authorities have released video from a police-involved shooting in the state.
The most recent case in Ventnor involves 30-year-old Pennsylvania resident Amir Johnson. Authorities say that a postal worker called 911 for help after seeing Johnson walking on the road bleeding from the neck.
When officers arrived, authorities say they found Johnson holding a broken bottle. What the video reveals in exchanges with police is that Johnson was attempting to take his own life.
Johnson is heard saying, “I told them I wanted to do it in the swamp. I was going to stab myself in the neck and crawl into the swamp."
Officers are heard trying to convince him to stop. “Start an ambo. He’s bleeding from the neck,” and an officer is heard saying, “Looks like he might have been stabbed. Sit down, buddy.”
Johnson is heard ignoring the commands and saying, “Do it. Finish it off.”
Officers tell Johnson to drop the bottle, but he states that he does not want any help. “I still want to get shot,” he says. Officers state that they do not want to shoot him.
In the final exchange, Johnson is seen running at the officers with the broken bottle before they shot him.
Johnson’s relatives have responded to the release of the video saying at the time he was in crisis after his fiancée had died.
"Amir was suffering from mental distress. Still, no reason to kill him. The police did come on the scene saying they want to help, however with guns drawn and demanding him to put his bottle down,” family representative Natasha Cameron said in a statement. “Once Amir stated he didn't want the help, they should have left him alone and brought mental services in - especially talking suicide."
New Jersey’s attorney general released a similar video last week of a shooting involving Asbury Park police officers’ encounter with Hasani Best. In that case, police are seen negotiating with Best inside of a home, while he is holding a knife. Best refused to put the knife down and is heard threatening to stab an officer. Police shot him, and he later died. Best does not appear to lunge at the officers in the video, only voicing a threat. This has angered members of Best’s family, who are calling for the officer who killed Best to face charges.
“They didn't have to take his life, they were laughing and joking one minute and then shot him through the door,” Best’s mother Caro Sanders said.
In both of these cases, it is the job of the state attorney general's office to investigate the use of force, and to determine whether police were justified in their actions or not.