The family of Andrew Washington is calling on the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to release additional body camera footage from August 27th, where he was fatally shot by a police officer after wielding a knife, to be released.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“While family members closest to Andrew have been unable to bring themselves to watch the footage, transcripts paint a picture, they say, contradicts Public Safety Director James Shea’s defense of the officers’ actions,” the family said in a joint statement.
“Before officers entered Andrew’s building, family members made continuous, unsuccessful pleas, begging to accompany the officers to speak with Andrew and for the police not to enter his home with firearms, as he had been shot by JCPD 12 years ago. These comments by the family are not shown in the footage that was released, there’s additional body camera footage that needs to be released to paint the full picture of exactly how the police failed to respond to this mental crisis in a professional manner.”
They were also critical of the deescalation tactics used, claiming that there was never a serious effort to establish rapport and that “patronizing discourse” made the situation worse.
At a vigil outside Washington’s home at 256 Randolph Ave. two days after he had been killed, his aunt, Doris Toni Ervin, alleged that police had not informed them that he had not been shot until three hours later.
The family has also said that Washington had been dealing with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia for decades.
The AG’s office released police body camera videos that were just over a half hour each early Friday evening minutes after New Jersey elected leaders began asking for the resignation of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez following his federal indictment.
The footage is from the point of the view of the two Emergency Services Unit officers who had previously been identified as firing a taser and handgun at Washington: Felix DeJesus and Stephen Gigante, respectively.
Sources who spoke under the condition of anonymity said that additional, longer footage of the family interacting with police, with a city spokeswoman confirming yesterday morning that additional video from the incident exists, as HCV first reported.
Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea said at a press conference the day after the incident that while tragic, the shooting was justified since Washington charged at police with a knife.
Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore has called on Shea to resign in light of the footage being released since it contradicts some of what he said at the aforementioned presser.
Additionally, Washington’s family is calling on Jersey City to adopt Expand NJ’s ARRIVE Together Mental Health Crisis Response Initiative that has been green lit in cities such as Bayonne and Newark.
“It’s time to hold the officers who shot and killed Drew accountable. And the politicians in Jersey City who IMMEDIATELY called this miscarriage of justice JUSTIFIABLE must also be held ACCOUNTABLE!” the GoFundMe page description, written by Courtnie Washington, Andrew’s brother says.
“The worst outcome has now become a living nightmare for our mother Gloria and our entire family. The police didn’t just take Drew from us they left our family with life long trauma, regret and guilt over calling for help, grief that will never end, and a void that can never be filled.”
The Change.org petition states that mental illness is not a crime and wants to put an end to the stigma attached to it.
“This is a fight for a more equitable society. A time to end excessive force. A time to hold these police officers accountable,” Courtnie Washington added in a statement.
“Now is the time for policy reform for people living with mental illnesses. A time to stand together for justice. Inaction and Indifference in cases like Drew’s is NO LONGER an option. The time for justice is ALWAYS NOW!”