“We don’t want to do this man, come on,” a Ventnor police officer tells Amir Johnson just seconds before the man is ftally shot by police Aug. 6.
Police were called at about 4:16 p.m. for the report of a man bleeding from his neck and walking in and out of traffic in the road where Ventnor’s Wellington Avenue turns into Atlantic City’s West End.
Johnson, 30, kept telling police to shoot him during the 15-minute standoff that went between the road and the marsh.
Johnson apparently cut his neck with a broken bottle, which is what he allegedly brandished at police.
The Attorney General’s Office, which is investigating the shooting, released footage from the body-worn cameras Friday.
“You think you can drop that bottle for us?” asks a Ventnor officer who identified himself to Johnson as a supervisor named Brian.
“The only thing that comes with it is a bullet,” Johnson replies.
“We don’t want that, Amir,” he says.
“Looks like he already cut himself and he wants us to shoot him,” the officer later says.
One of the three videos is from an Atlantic City officer. In that one, he threatens to deploy the taser. But he then says he’s not sure if it’s even working.
Ventnor does not have tasers.
“We don’t want to do this man. Stop,” says one of the Ventnor officers as Johnson is seen walking away into the marsh.
Johnson then turns and starts running toward them as the officer continues to yell for him to stop.
Johnson screams and falls as he runs toward them, but gets back up and continues yelling at the officers.
He then walks toward the officer whose camera captures the events.
“Drop the bottle. Drop it,” the officer yells as Johnson picks up the pace.
Ventnor Officers Michael Arena, Pierluigi Mancuso and Robert Scarborough shot at Johnson, according to the preliminary investigation.
About five or six gunshots are heard as Johnson doubles over and falls.
He is then ordered to drop the bottle again.
“Drop the bottle. We can help you. Drop it,” the officer says as Johnson yells in pain.
He eventually lets go of the bottle and then the officers handcuff him as medics are called.
“Amir, we can help you,” one says.
While the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability continues to investigate, the videos were released under the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” which governs use-of-force investigations in New Jersey and requires such records be released to the public if requested.
Police were first called to the scene by a postal worker who said the man was bleeding from the neck and was wandering in traffic.
“He literally stopped traffic in the middle of the road,” the postal worker is heard saying in a tape of the call. “I don’t know if he’s on something. He’s just running in front of cars.”
The worker can be heard telling the man he can’t get in the truck.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time. Under state law and the Independent Prosecutor Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.
The investigation is being conducted in compliance with procedures and requirements established in the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which is available at this link:
The Independent Prosecutor Directive, issued by Attorney General Grewal in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting independent investigations of use-of-force and death-in-custody incidents in compliance with state law. The directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are done fully, fairly, and independently of any potential bias. A summary of that 10-step process is available at this link:https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/docs/The-Independent-Prosecutor-Directive.pdf