Video: N.J. officers shoot armed man holding woman in headlock

The suspect died after the brief standoff

By Brent Johnson

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A Jersey City man was holding a woman in a headlock and appeared to point a gun at her when he was shot dead by a city police officer during a brief standoff, according to video footage of the incident released Monday by the state Attorney General’s Office.

The office made the footage, as well as surveillance video and a 911 call, public a little less than a month after the late-night May 24 shooting outside a gas station in New Jersey’s second-largest city.

Authorities said last month that Jersey City Police Officer Omar Polanco shot 59-year-old city resident Joseph Robertson during a domestic violence incident.

Uniformed city police officers responded after a woman made a 911 call shortly after 11:56 p.m. that night reporting a domestic dispute with a man carrying a gun near the intersection of Communipaw and West Side avenues, according to the preliminary investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office.

When officers arrived, they found Robertson with a woman near the BP gas station, the office said. Robertson then pulled the woman closer to him and put her in a headlock before pointing what appeared to be a firearm at her, the office said.

Polanco then fired his gun, killing Robertson, the office said.

Emergency workers gave first aid to Robertson, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:19 a.m., the office said.

Authorities recovered a firearm near Robertson, the office said.

The office said the investigation is ongoing and declined further comment Monday.

The 911 call begins with a woman telling the dispatcher, “There’s a guy following me with a gun.”

“Can you hurry, please?” she says, telling the dispatcher that she was heading toward the gas station.

Three minutes into the call, the woman says while crying, “He’s walking towards me.”

The call ends about a minute later.

The surveillance video shows a man walking quickly behind a woman as she arrives at the gas station. The police arrive shortly thereafter.

The police body cam footage shows Polanco getting out of his car and approaching Robertson, who grabs a woman as officers surround him and then appears to pull a weapon. Robertson falls to the ground with the woman after he is shot.

There is no sound in the clip until after the shooting happens.

The Attorney General’s Office said it released the footage under policy enacted by the office in 2019 to “promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters.”

Investigators met Monday with Robertson’s family to review the recordings, the office said.

Robertson’s child, Joleetah Robertson, created a Gofundme page to raise money for Robertson’s funeral and burial costs.

“While there is still an ongoing investigation with this case, I am struggling to find a way to give my dad a proper burial due to his untimely death,” Joleetah Robertson wrote on the page.

Joleetah Robertson did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday night.

You can view the footage and listen to the 911 call here.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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