Video shows cops shooting man 45 times after high-speed NJ chase
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND LANGUAGE
ATLANTIC CITY — Video showing a 10-mile police pursuit through Atlantic City in March, 2014 that ended with officers firing at the driver 45 times was released Monday by the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.
The release was in compliance with a recent New Jersey State Supreme Court ruling that such video footage of police-involved shootings should be released in the public interest.
Prosecutors said the chase started after Antoquan T. Watson of Williamstown left the La Escondida II Restaurant and Bar in Pleasantville after drinking two beers. Police were called after a customer noticed he had a handgun in his hand as he left, the county prosecutor's office said. Surveillance video later showed he pointed the gun at the ceiling but did not threaten anyone with while he was at the bar, it said.
Police approached Watson's Saturn Vue in the restaurant's parking lot and asked him to roll down the window and step out of the SUV, the prosecutor's office said. Instead, prosecutors said, Watson put vehicle into gear, left the parking lot and headed east on the Black Horse Pike.
The Pleasantville officer began to follow Watson along with other Pleasantville officers, as seen in the full video. The pursuit continued into the West Atlantic City section of Egg Harbor Township and into Atlantic City through the city's casino district.
Prosecutors said the chase reached 50 to 85 mph as it went onto West End Avenue in Ventnor and back onto the Black Horse Pike. Watson fired at police as he turned onto Albany Avenue and forced his way between two civilian cars, the prosecutor's office said.
Watson was hit by a car as he crossed Missouri Avenue on Atlantic Avenue, bringing the pursuit to an end 11 minutes after it started.
Watson was ordered out of his SUV and fired at police as he got out and walked across Atlantic Avenue.
Four officers from Pleasantville and three from Atlantic City officers fired at Watson, according to the prosecutor's office. One Pleasantville officer fired four rounds from a shotgun as well as his department-issued handgun, the prosecutor's office said. The other six officers fired only their department-issued handguns, it said.
The prosecutor's office said that during interviews conducted in the course of the investigation, a number of the officers stated that they feared Watson was wearing body armor, due to the fact that he appeared to have sustained a number of gunshot wounds, but was able to remain standing.
“Shot-Spotter” sensors determined that the first shot was fired at this scene at 12:47.08.6, and the final shot was fired at 12:47.31.6, a span of 23 seconds, the prosecutor's office said. The information gathered from the “Shot-Spotter” sensors indicate that a minimum of 69 and a maximum of 74 shots were fired during the course of this incident, the office said.
Watson pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m. The medical examiner determined he died from a shot to the head, and also found PCP in his system.
An Atlantic County grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against the officers involved after reviewing the evidence.
An investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General's office concluded that the use of force by officers under the circumstances was lawful.
The video above has been edited for length. The full video, as released by the prosecutor's office, is below:
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at email@example.com.