Mentally ill Jersey City man allegedly charged at police with a knife before being fatally shot


A mentally ill Jersey City man allegedly charged at police with a knife before being fatally shot yesterday afternoon, city officials said this morning.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“When you look at the footage of what actually transpired, you’d be hard pressed to say you would’ve taken a different approach,” Fulop said at a press conference inside the council chambers at City Hall.

“They arrived at the scene, based on the medical center’s advice, they entered, they went to the door to communicate with Mr. Washington for close to an hour and despite the fact that he was saying things at the time that were very, very erratic – very erratic – they breached the door, but did not enter, and then they were charged at by Mr. Washington with a knife and they released a taser – which is clearly seen in the video – as well as a firearm.”

Andrew Jerome Washington, 52, was fatally shot inside his home on Randolph Avenue yesterday afternoon and the state Attorney General’s Office is investigating.

Public Safety Director James Shea said that trained officers from the emergency services unit (ESU) attempted to establish a rapport Washington, attempted to find family members who could speak to him, asked if he’d rather speak to medical personnel, among other deescalation tactics, to no avail.

Also a trained emergency psychiatric technician, Shea said after reviewing the body camera footage, he had no issues with the techniques used by the officers at the door.

During a question and answer session with the media, Fulop noted that the incident did not occur on the ground floor and the stairs to the building were right behind the door to Washington’s apartment, therefore, officers were landlocked when he charged them.

Shea said he could not speak to Washington’s medical history, which family members have said included schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Fulop also called on the AG’s office to release the police body camera footage as soon as possible.

“The one thing I would hope is that there is a quick release of the video so that the public can see it. We’ve seen sometimes from previous attorney generals that it can take a long time and that’s where the public has distrust over what’s transpired. We would like to see this released almost immediately.”

He also noted that there were no other witnesses, making the release of the footage that much more critical to assess the situation.

Later, the mayor also pointed out that while crisis intervention specialists from the Jersey City Medical Center were on the scene, they did not feel comfortable entering the building and someone from the hospital called the police.

“There’s kind of a mistaken impression that we can bring psychiatrists to all of these jobs and have them talk to the person and meet the person. We can only introduce an unarmed civilian into this job if the area is secure,” added Shea.

“And in this case, it was not secure, the medical center make that determination themselves, where they told us that they could not safely interact with Mr. Washington. They were on a tiny landing with him, God forbid had there been an unarmed civilian up there when he rushed out, they would’ve been very badly hurt.”

The Jersey City Medical Center declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

On social media, some family members and neighbors are still expressing dismay with how the situation played out.

“his cousin is my godmother. he’s been in and out of the crisis center since we were kids. JCMC knows him and his episodes there was no reason for him to be killed like this,” tweeted 4k Jae, a local podcaster.

“No1 on the block thought this guy’s a threat, we all knew he was unwell and likely off his meds, clearly needed help. Even the tenants downstairs from him were in touch with his family and not afraid of him. Why was SWAT called? What was the rush to enter his home? He was alone!” a neighbor named Eco tweeted.

In a statement, Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon said that he was “deeply saddened” to here of Washington’s passing and echoed Fulop’s call to the attorney general to release the body camera footage “speedily.”

He also asked for a transparent, unbiased investigation, as well as for the city to integrate mental health workers with the police force.

“If a family member calls for much-needed mental health services for a loved one, they must be able to trust that their loved one will be aided without being harmed,” Solomon said.

“The investigation will determine what happened in this specific instance, but we know that Jersey City must take immediate action to implement the long-awaited citywide policy that integrates mental health professionals with officers—significantly improving our current capacity.”

He also offered his condolences to the Washington family during this difficult time.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from Jersey City Ward E Councilman James Solomon.

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