Jersey City man who was fatally shot by cop had woman in headlock, appears to pull gun


A Jersey City man who was fatally shot by a police officer last month had a woman in a headlock and appeared to pull a gun, according to video footage of the incident.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

According to the preliminary investigation, Jersey City police officers responded to a 911 call made shortly after 11:56 p.m. on May 24th. reporting a domestic dispute involving a man with a gun near the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and West Side Avenue, the AG’s office said in a statement.

When officers arrived, they encountered a man, Joseph Robertson, 59, of Jersey City and a woman near the BP gas station.

Robertson pulled the woman close to him and placed the woman in a headlock before pointing what appeared to be a firearm at the woman, according to police body camera and surveillance footage of the incident that was released today.

At this time, Officer Omar Polanco fired his weapon, fatally wounding Robertson. Officers and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Robertson and he was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:19 a.m. and a firearm was recovered near his body.

Additionally, a 911 call reveals that a woman dialed the emergency number to report “there’s a guy following me with a gun.”

This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the AG’s office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner.

The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability is still probing the matter and no further information is being released at this time.

Robertson and Polanco were identified as the decedent and officer, respectively, involved in the incident last month. Polanco is not listed in the state’s use of force database and he has been an officer for about three-and-a-half years, according to public records.

Robertson described himself on his Facebook page as “a very out going person who love to see a smile on people [sic] faces always thinking ahead” and his son, Joleetah Robertson, started a GoFundMe page with a $15,000 goal to cover his funeral costs.

HCV submitted an Open Public Records Act request of the incident on May 25th seeking the police body and dashboard camera footage of the incident, but never received a response from the AG’s office, though they released some redacted footage to their press list today.

The full videos, along with the 911 call, can be viewed/heard here.

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