In accordance with the Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Amending Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2006-5, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office (UCPO) is releasing the following public statement regarding the non-fatal use of deadly force by a retired law enforcement officer in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Elizabeth Police Department officers responded to a 24-hour car wash located on Edgar Road just south of the Bayway Circle. There, they encountered 23-year-old Krishad Jones of Newark, who had sustained multiple gunshot wounds, and a retired Newark Police officer.
The Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Shooting Response Team (SRT) responded and conducted a thorough investigation. A comprehensive conflicts inquiry required pursuant to section 3 of the Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive was conducted and no conflicts were detected.
The investigation revealed that when the retired officer went to retrieve a towel at the car wash, turning his back to his vehicle, a co-defendant of Jones, Dequelle Nelson, surreptitiously entered the vehicle in an attempt to steal it.
As the retired officer confronted Nelson, Jones approached the retired officer from behind and forcefully punched him in the back of the head twice, prompting a brief physical altercation that ended with the retired officer firing his handgun at Jones.
Nelson then fled the scene in another nearby vehicle, leaving Jones behind. Arriving first responders transported Jones to University Hospital in Newark, and he was later charged with first-degree carjacking and second-degree robbery. The investigation also revealed that a portion of the incident was captured on video surveillance footage from a business in the area.
Jones contested the victim’s claim of self-defense prior to the case being heard by the Grand Jury. Two of the five gunshot wounds Mr. Jones received were in the back.
However, video evidence confirmed that the retired officer had been punched by Jones from behind. Jones had claimed that his contact with the officer immediately before the officer fired his weapon constituted a “tap on the shoulder.”
On Friday, March 22, 2019, the Union County Grand Jury heard testimony and evidence from the SRT’s investigation into the shooting and found the retired officer’s use of force was justified. The Grand Jury declined to file any charges against the retired officer.
A law enacted in January 2019 requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity, or while the decedent is in custody. This deadly force investigation preceded enactment of that law, and did not result in death, therefore the investigation was conducted by the UCPO and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office in accordance with the Directive, which establishes strict procedures for conducting such investigations. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the Directive.