Bodycam video shows backhoe smashing cop cars in deadly rampage
A man in a stolen construction vehicle crashed into homes and police cars before he was shot dead
By Matt Gray
VINELAND, N.J. — The state Attorney General’s Office has released video footage showing the chaotic scene as a man driving a backhoe smashed cars and homes in Vineland before he was shot to death by a police officer on Dec. 18.
Joshua E. Gonzalez, 20, of Millville, was shot after police tried for a half hour to stop him as he crushed police vehicles, toppled an ambulance and rampaged through a neighborhood, according to authorities.
The office released body camera footage, along with surveillance and cellphone videos, and 911 calls related to the incident on Thursday afternoon and also met with Gonzalez’s family to review the footage, according to an announcement.
The Attorney General’s Office is handling the investigation into the police use of deadly force.
The incident began around 5 a.m. when Vineland officers received 911 calls reporting that someone driving a backhoe had struck a car at a Vineland business and driven off. From there, they responded to South Lincoln Avenue, where the backhoe slammed into a car, then crushed two police vehicles, authorities said.
Body camera footage shows officers converging on the yellow vehicle as it tears through the Penn Lincoln Mobile Home Park on South Lincoln in the pre-dawn darkness.
The beeping backup indicator is heard as the backhoe is put in reverse to continue its erratic journey, striking homes along the way.
“Our house is completely demolished,” a woman reported in a 911 call that was released by Cumberland County on Thursday in response to an public records request about the incident. “It just took out the entire front of our house. It’s now taking out other houses as well … I can’t get out of my front door.”
Footage from a Ring doorbell camera shows the backhoe crush a structure in front of a home before striking the residence. Also released were cellphone videos taken by bystanders recording the chaos.
“He’s going into houses, Jim. We’ve gotta do something now,” one officer declares as he races after the vehicle. Footage from Vineland Police Sgt. Louis Platania’s body camera shows him exit his car and run toward the backhoe.
He fires multiple shots, blowing out a window in the cab. The driver slumps over as the vehicle continues out of control and comes to a stop when it plows into a tree.
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Officers pull Gonzalez from the cab and begin CPR as others check damaged homes to see if any residents are injured.
Medical personal rendered aid, but Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:48 a.m. Three officers suffered minor injuries and were treated and released, officials said. No other injuries were reported.
In addition to extensive damage to multiple homes, three police vehicles, the ambulance and an occupied civilian vehicle were struck, authorities said.
Officials have not indicated where Gonzalez got the backhoe or why he went on the rampage.
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