A Jersey City police officer shot an armed assailant near the intersection of Union Street and Martin Luther King Drive this evening, resulting in no serious injuries and an ongoing investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, officials said Tuesday night.
At a press conference at the Jersey City Medical Center, Public Safety Director James Shea said a Jersey City police unit was conducting a surveillance operation, which included electronic surveillance cameras, around 7:50 p.m. when they observed a 21-year-old man “obtain a firearm” from a car and place it in his pocket.
When approached by police, he fled into the area of the Salem Lafayette Apartments, commonly referred to as “SaLaf Court,” and when police caught up to him, one officer fired three shots – one which hit the suspect in the wrist, according to Shea.
Shea also indicated that both the suspect and the officer received medical attention, as well as that the New York Attorney General’s Office has assigned the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the incident.
On Wednesday morning, the New York AG’s Office told HCV that they had no involvement with assigning the case to the HCPO and the city subsequently confirmed that Shea misspoke and meant to say the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Police Chief Michael Kelly added that the local, county, and state law enforcement agencies have “looked at this area hard,” calling SaLaf Court “a highly volatile area with a lot of recent violence.”
During the question and answer session with the media, Shea said the suspect’s weapon – a loaded semi-automatic black handgun – was recovered, but declined to go into any other specifics due to the ongoing investigation.
“We will not prejudice an investigation,” Shea said several times in response to questions about where the weapon was recovered, if the suspect pointed his weapon at the officer, or if the suspect has a prior criminal record.
He did say a couple times that the weapon “was recovered at the scene and being processed by crime scene,” but declined to say anything beyond that.
When asked if the officer who fired his service weapon was in danger, Mayor Steven Fulop and Shea took markedly different approaches with their responses.
“I would say that any time a police officer is chasing an individual or engaging with an individual, directly in any matter that involves an illegal firearm, the police officer’s life is in danger,” Fulop said.
” … Really? We’re out in the street, in an area the police chief just described as an area where are officers are asked to go in to address street violence that is costing lives of children, everything else just this year … I think we’ve reached kind of a ludicrous point if you think that’s a legitimate question,” Shea exclaimed.
Later, responding to questions from HCV, Shea said that surveillance footage from the incident will be released upon the conclusion of the HCPO’s investigation, as well as noting that surveillances are set up on the South and West Sides of Jersey City to address shooting and homicides.
Additionally, Fulop said the officer in question, an eight-year veteran of the force is “shaken up, but also identified him as “one of our better police officers” and a member of the Street Crimes Unit without saying his name.
After applauding his officers, Kelly condemned social media postings that indicated someone was shot in the back or that an unarmed person was shot.
“… It’s really out of hand and it’s out of hand for our police officers who are just trying to make people’s lives better in Jersey City.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information.