The New Jersey chapter of the ACLU is calling for the “transformation of policing wholesale” after a mentally ill Jersey City man was fatally shot on Sunday after allegedly charging police with a knife while having an episode.
“We extend our condolences to the family of Andrew Jerome Washington which is suffering tremendous pain after his killing at the hands of police. The family and public are left to grieve following another tragic loss of a Black man suffering from a mental health crisis,” the organization tweeted.
“This is yet another tragedy that demonstrates why we need a transformation of policing wholesale, including civilian complaint review boards with subpoena power, public disclosure of all police disciplinary history, and an end to qualified immunity.”
Andrew Jerome Washington, 52, was fatally shot by a member of the Jersey City Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit (ESU) on Sunday afternoon after about an hour of failed negotiations, city officials said Monday.
At a press conference, Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea indicated that members of the ESU unit responded after crisis interventionists from the Jersey City Medical Center contacted police since they felt it was unsafe to enter the Randolph Avenue home.
Both a taser and service weapon were deployed after officers entered the home and Washington, who had been shot in the arm during a similar situation in 2011, died at the hospital a couple hours later.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is investigating the incident and released the names of the officers who fired their weapons on Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Washington’s family and friends hosted a well-attended vigil in front of his former home to celebrate his life, with several family members expressing frustration over a mental health episode leading to his killing.
His aunt, Doris Toni Ervin, exclaimed that police initially lied to the family about Washington being shot, which they didn’t find out for over three hours.
Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2), Ward E Councilman James Solomon, and Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore have called on the city to implement a crisis intervention program that received council approval last year.
Furthermore, elected officials, including Fulop, and community leaders have called on the attorney general to release the police body camera footage of the incident.
While Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) has introduced a bill in Trenton to allow municipalities to introduce CCRBs in New Jersey, the bill hasn’t been moved, despite support from the likes of the aforementioned local officials.