Mayor Steven Fulop defended Jersey City police officers who killed a man suffering from a mental health crisis and said that he believed body-camera footage from the encounter would justify the slaying.
Emergency workers had been summoned six times this month to the Jersey City home of a 52-year-old man who was fatally shot by a responding police officer during their seventh visit on Sunday.
Fulop, who launched his 2025 campaign for New Jersey governor in April, said that he believed the police video would make it clear that officers properly followed protocol.
James Shea, the Jersey City public safety director, said Andrew Jerome Washington, had been shot by the police before in 2012, in “almost identical circumstances.”
In the previous encounter, a mobile crisis outreach team refused to evaluate Washington until he was “secured” by police officers.
Shea said that during the 2012 encounter, Washington charged the officers with a knife and was shot once in the arm.
Fulop said that he hoped body-camera footage from the encounter would be released to the public.
“It certainly is a tragic situation any time somebody loses their life, and certainly in the case of Mr. Washington,” said Fulop. “Unfortunately, the use of force was justified here.”
Fulop said Jersey City Medical Center workers notified the police that they felt it was unsafe to enter Washington’s home on Sunday.
The department’s emergency services unit responded to the scene and spent close to an hour talking to Washington through the door of his second-floor apartment.
They felt Washington was speaking in “an irrational fashion” and was planning to harm himself or someone else so the officers attempted to open the door.
When they opened the door, Washington rushed at them wielding a kitchen knife with a six- to eight-inch blade so the officers shot him with a Taser and a firearm.
The officer who fatally shot Washington was placed on administrative duty and has had his firearm seized pending the results of an investigation.
Fulop said that the officer, who has not yet been identified, has been with the department since 2016 and had received training in both New York and New Jersey.
Fulop said the officer who killed Washington had no prior discipline or performance issues.
Shea said that the Jersey City public safety department responded to nearly 2,000 calls for emotionally disturbed people last year, and that officers had used force 41 times in their response.
Only three people suffered injuries during those calls, while five officers were injured, said Shea. “Mr. Washington is sick,” said Shea. “He’s not bad, he’s not evil; he was sick, but that didn’t make him any less dangerous.”
Gov. Phil Murphy can’t run for a third term, leaving the most powerful governor’s office wide open, and while several politicians on both sides of the aisle are indicating they may be interested, Fulop is the only announced candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Jack M. Ciattarelli, the 2021 Republican nominee, and radio host Bill Spadea are expected to seek the GOP nod, but