Videos show chaotic path that led to Vineland police shooting

VINELAND – Videos released by the Attorney General’s Office illustrate a trail of chaos and wreckage that led to a fatal police shooting here.

The images show a backhoe, with 20-year-old Joshua Gonzalez of Millville at the controls, hitting homes and vehicles during a police pursuit in predawn darkness on Dec. 18.

“He’s going right into a house … right into a house,” a police officer exclaims at one point. “This f—ing kid is insane.”

Another video shows Vineland Police Sgt. Louis Platania running to the backhoe and firing four times to end the incident at the Lincoln Penn Mobile Home Park.

More: Emergency calls offer insight into Millville police shooting

More: Detective named Trooper of the Year for role in Fairfield investigations

The gunshots killed Gonzalez, who was pronounced dead at the scene off Lincoln Avenue shortly before 5:50 a.m.

A body-cam video shows a Vineland police officer aiming his service weapon at a backhoe operated by Joshua Gonzalez, 20, of Millville on Dec. 18, 2021.

The Attorney General’s Office has said Gonzalez “caused extensive damage to several residences and vehicles, including three police cars, an ambulance, and an occupied civilian vehicle.”

Three Vineland police officers received minor injuries while trying to stop Gonzalez over about 30 minutes, it said.

The agency on Thursday released videos from four body-worn cameras, two civilian cell phones and two home-surveillance cameras.

It also released a pair of 911 calls that reported the backhoe’s rampage to police.

Both were made by callers at AJM Packaging Corp. on the 3400 block of Southeast Boulevard, about three miles from where Gonzalez was shot.

Vineland police officers approach a backhoe after the fatal shooting of Joshua Gonzalez, 20, of Millville on Dec. 18.

Vineland police officers approach a backhoe after the fatal shooting of Joshua Gonzalez, 20, of Millville on Dec. 18.

One of the 911 callers said the backhoe had pushed one vehicle into another in the company’s parking lot.

“He’s coming up to the door,” the caller said of the backhoe.

“He’s trying to hit the building?” the dispatcher responded.

“That’s what it looks like. Everybody just ran inside,” the caller continued.

The videos also show an accident on Lincoln Avenue, where the backhoe had struck a motorist’s car — and then returned to smash police vehicles that responded to the scene.

“Two police cars completely destroyed,” an officer says.

Police also are shown checking on the woman whose car was damaged by the backhoe.

“Are you OK?” an officer asks the driver, who’s standing a considerable distance from the road.

“No, I’m in shock,” she says tearfully.

A tree blocks a backhoe from hitting a Vineland home after police shot the machine's operator on Dec. 18, 2021.

A tree blocks a backhoe from hitting a Vineland home after police shot the machine’s operator on Dec. 18, 2021.

The videos also show police scrambling to keep up with fast-changing events.

“He just struck another vehicle,” an officer says at one point.

“I need more guys from the shift up here with this guy,” says another.

“We’ve got to do something now,” declares a third officer as the backhoe rumbles through the mobile home park.

The gunshots that killed Gonzalez did not stop the backhoe, which rolled across a cul de sac and stopped against a tree outside a house.

“He’s stuck, he’s stuck!” an officer shouts at that point. “Get him out, get him out!”

“He’s dead in there,” says a second policeman.

The videos show officers pulling Gonzalez from the backhoe and handcuffing him, then administering CPR and calling for an EMS unit. A policeman climbs into the backhoe, its side window shattered by gunfire, to turn off the engine.

Officers then turn their attention to residents of the mobile home park, an age-restricted community of about 90 homes.

“I need guys in here,” an officer says. “I’ve got to start checking these houses.”

The Attorney General’s Office noted a state law requires an investigation into any death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity.

“The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time,” it said.

Jim Walsh covers public safety, economic development and other beats for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal.

Support local journalism with a subscription.

This article originally appeared on Vineland Daily Journal: Videos: Backhoe damaged homes, vehicles before Vineland police shooting

Source link
#mrmikefrost