A state grand jury declined to charge two Bayonne police officers who fatally shot an emotionally disturbed man armed with a knife back on June 7th, 2021, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The killing of Lee Waskiewicz, 47, of Bayonne, was deemed to be justified since the jury returned a “no bill” on Monday after hearing testimony and evidence that included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of video, and autopsy results.
According to the investigation, uniformed officers of the Bayonne Police Department responded to a 911 call made at approximately 6:30 a.m. reporting a domestic disturbance at a residence in the first block of West 1st Street, as the AG said back on the day of the incident.
When officers arrived, they met a Waskiewicz’s mother, who spoke to them about her son. She escorted the officers, Edward Taveras and Timothy Ballance Jr., into the home and called Waskiewicz down from the third floor.
Upon seeing the police officers, Waskiewicz went back upstairs and out of sight in the doorway of an attic. When Taveras asked Waskiewicz to come down to talk to him, he yelled for the officers to leave and threatened to stab them.
Waskiewicz came back to the stairs armed with a knife, to which the officers then ordered him to drop the knife. In response, Waskiewicz repeatedly told the officers to get away from him while he sat in a chair with the knife.
He then threatened to stab the officers to death if they approached him. He then rose from the chair and walked to the top of the stairs with the knife still in his hand stating, “Do it, shoot, go ahead, right now, shoot” while advancing toward Taveras.
As Waskiewicz came down the stairs, both Taveras and Ballance fired their weapons, fatally wounding Mr. Waskiewicz.
They rendered medical aid until emergency medical personnel arrived and transported Waskiewicz to the Bayonne Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased at approximately 7:43 a.m.
The incident was caught on police body cameras and was released by the AG’s Office, along with the audio of the 911 call, in July 2021.
“He’s disturbed, he’s gone crazy … My [censored] has gone crazy … Fireworks were going off in the middle of the morning and he was going crazy over it, he started wrecking stuff,” the woman who made the 911 call, later revealed to be his mother, said.
Additionally, the officers involved were identified a few days after the fatal incident occurred.
A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation.
Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by Office of Public Integrity and Accountability Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the standard operating procedures.
At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures.