The Vineland police officer who fatally shot a man last year was legally justified, an investigation by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office found.
The case will not be brought before a grand jury, Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae announced Thursday.
The officer — identified only as “Officer No. 1” — shot 37-year-old Rashaun Washington about 26 minutes into a standoff in which the man insisted police would have to kill him.
Video of the incident from a body camera was previously released.
“I don’t even want to be here no more, man,” Washington says just minutes before he is fatally shot by Vineland police.
claimed to have an explosive device wrapped in a T-shirt: “Once I drop this, it’s going to go off regardless,” he is heard saying at one point.
But the shirt really contained garden shears with an 8¼ blade, the officers would learn after the shooting.
“Blow my brains out,” he says at one point. “A couple shots to the head. Other than that, a couple of us going regardless.”
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Officers No. 4 and 5 are the first to arrive at 436 W. Wood St., four minutes after the 11:22 a.m. July 14, 2018, call came in.
Officer No. 1 arrives two minutes later, at 11:28 a.m. Officer No. 2 comes a minute later and takes his K-9 dog out of his car.
In total, eight officers arrived on scene.
Officer No. 1 talks to Washington, trying to find out what’s wrong.
“I went to prison,” he says. “I lost everything I had. My family’s gone. My girl left me with my kids and moved on.”
The officer asks Washington about his children.
“You need to be there for them,” the officer says. “They’re 11 and 13, man.”
“They’re better off without me,” Washington replies.
“They’re not. Trust me,” the officer says. “You’re their father. They need their father.”
There is an impasse for several minutes, as Officer No. 1 tries to calm Washington. At on point, the officers asks Officer No. 3 to talk with Washington, saying that it may help to speak with an unarmed officer.
Washington paces back and forth.
“Don’t make me shoot you,” Officer No. 1 says.
But then Washington charges toward the officer, getting within about eight feet when the officers fires his rifle three times, according to the investigation.
Washington was hit in the shoulder, abdomen and forearm.
At that same time, Officer No. 2 released his K-9 dog, who clamped down on Washington’s thigh, Webb-McRae said.
Washington fell forward toward Officer No. 1 and continued to crawl toward him, still holding the unknown weapon, the report said.
Officer No. 3 discharged his pepper spray as Washington continued to struggle to avoid police restraint, Webb-McRae said.
Washington was finally handcuffed and then medical assistance was given.
He was taken to Inspira Hospital, arriving at the emergency room at 12:10 p.m. without cardiac activity, Webb-McRae said. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m.