A water bottle? A bomb? Witnesses question why cops shot Vineland man
VINELAND — Witnesses and other community members are questioning the fatal shooting of a man by police on Saturday morning.
Rashaun Washington, 37, of Bridgeton, was fatally shot by police around 11:20 a.m after he was "acting suspiciously on the front porch of a residence located on W. Wood Street (between the Boulvelard and 4th Streets)," according to a release by the Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office.
Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said the initial investigation has determined only one officer fired at Washington. The officers, whose identity was not disclosed, has been put on administrative duty. Webb-McRae declined to answer additional questions citing the ongoing investigation.
The office is handling the investigation into the shooting as per guidelines set by the state Attorney General's office.
But several residents who saw the shooting questioned the actions of police, and whether the shooting was justified.
A Facebook live video of the incident posted by "Ri Ri" showed a large police response to the situation.
"I rode by, he out here buggin,' they got K9's, big ass guns drawn and everything and he just keep walking up to the cops," Mariee can be heard saying in the video.
Washington is seen walking forward up to the officers, and then backward, in the video, which was taken from across the street. He then walks past officers along the side of a cruiser and seems to begin sprinting as three shots are fired.
"Oh my God! They just killed him! Oh my God," exclaims Mariee. She did not capture the actual shooting on her video.
Mariee said the police dog was biting Washington's face and he was placed in handcuffs after being shot.
A loud commotion of voices in English and Spanish and additional police and an ambulance arrive following the shooting.
"You knew he had a bomb," said a male sounding voice. Another voice said there was no bomb.
Witness Jose Pagan told NJ.com that Washington was holding a bottle of water and appeared to be "agitated." He also said an officer had yelled out "bomb" just before Washington was shot in the chest.
Police have not addressed any claims about a bomb in any public statement so far.
Andaiye Al-Uqdah, an attorney representing Washington, told the news site the shooting was "really just a violation of human rights [and] unnecessary use of force on an unarmed man."
Al-Uqdah, reached by New Jersey 101.5 Monday, said she'd return a call, but has not as of yet.
Family members and friends gathered for a protest on Sunday evening organized by Action Together New Jersey at the scene of the shooting, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
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Webb-McRae in a statement said her office is investigating and asked anyone with information to contact authorities.