Jersey City Tragedy: Mental Health Crisis Call Ends in Fatal Police Shooting

Jersey City Police Shooting
Andrew Jerome Washington (Deceased) Courtesy of RLSmedia.com

Jersey City Tragedy: Mental Health Crisis Call Ends in Fatal Police Shooting

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The tragic shooting of Andrew Jerome Washington, a 52-year-old Jersey City resident with a history of mental illness, has left the community in shock and mourning. Washington’s family had reached out to the Jersey City Medical Center Crisis Center for assistance, only for the police to respond.

Lisa Mendez, Washington’s aunt, described him as a “funny, good person” whose only challenge was his illness. Washington had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and had been under treatment for several years. His recent behavior, which included speaking loudly to himself and banging on apartment walls, raised concerns among his family members. They believed he might have stopped taking his medication and feared he might harm himself.

However, their call for medical assistance took a tragic turn when police officers arrived at Washington’s Randolph Avenue apartment. Despite the family’s plea to use non-lethal force, the situation escalated, resulting in Washington being shot. He later succumbed to his injuries after undergoing surgery at the Jersey City Medical Center.

Doris Ervin, another of Washington’s aunts, expressed her confusion and grief, stating they had sought help from the crisis center, not expecting such a tragic outcome. The family also highlighted a previous incident where police had responded to a call regarding Washington but left after he refused to cooperate.

In 2011, Washington had another encounter with the police, where he was shot in the arm after allegedly refusing medical assistance. Mendez emphasized the need for better response and compassion from both the crisis center and the police.

In their defense, the Jersey City police informed PIX11 that they had been called to assist EMS with a “violent and emotionally disturbed person.” They claim Washington had charged at them with a knife, leading them to use a Taser before resorting to gunfire. The incident, captured on multiple body cameras, is now under investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

Update on the Incident:

The Attorney General’s Office has provided further details on the fatal officer-involved shooting that took place on August 27, 2023. Emergency medical services initially responded to Mr. Washington’s residence and subsequently requested assistance from the Jersey City Police Department. Despite attempts to communicate with Mr. Washington, he refused to open his apartment door. The Jersey City Emergency Services Unit (ESU) was then called to the scene.

After over thirty minutes of trying to establish communication, ESU members forced entry into Mr. Washington’s apartment. Upon entry, Mr. Washington advanced towards the officers, leading ESU Officer Felix DeJesus to deploy a Conducted Energy Device, or stun gun. ESU Officer Stephen Gigante discharged his service weapon, striking Mr. Washington twice. A knife was later recovered near Mr. Washington.

A 2019 law mandates the Attorney General’s Office to investigate deaths that occur during encounters with law enforcement officers. The investigation will be presented to a grand jury to determine if any indictment against the officers involved is warranted. The Office of the Attorney General will also release video footage from officers’ body-worn cameras and dashboard cameras once the initial investigation is substantially complete.

The investigation is ongoing, and no further details are available at this time.

In a heartfelt post on Facebook, Lisa Mendez shared her anguish over the incident:

“The Jersey city police killed my nephew Andrew Washington. A simple medical assistance call turned into a swat team killing. He was in his own apartment causing no harm to no one; he just wouldn’t open the door. The Jersey City police forced entry and shot him like a criminal after we begged and advised everyone at the scene he had a mental disorder. ‘Please don’t shoot him.’ We are seeking justice for this unnecessary, hateful killing.”

The tragic event has ignited a conversation about the handling of mental health crises by law enforcement agencies, and the community awaits further details from the ongoing investigation.

Updated on Aug. 29th, 2023

Source: PIX11.