Widow of Black Man Shot Dead By Police Sues Jersey City, NJ
JERSEY CITY — The widow of a man shot by police during an incident last year claims her husband was killed because cops did not follow state guidelines before opening fire, according to a lawsuit.
Joseph Robertson was fatally shot in the head by a Jersey City cop identified by the state Attorney General's Office as Officer Omar Polanco on May 24, 2022. Authorities said a Polanco believed Robertson was armed; a gun was recovered at the scene.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of widow Natasha Robertson, which notes Robertson is Black and Polanco is white, states that she was shot three times but survived. It also claims that body camera footage released by the OAG does not show her 59-year-old husband holding a gun when Polanco pulled the trigger.
Robertson is seeking unspecified damages for her husband's death and the injuries she sustained during the shooting.
Video, audio of fatal police shooting of Joseph Robertson
According to the state Attorney General's Office, police were responding to a 911 call from a woman shortly before midnight. Released audio from the call includes the woman, in tears, telling the dispatcher that a man matching Robertson's description was following her with a gun.
Surveillance video from a BP gas station at the intersection of Communipaw and West Side avenues appears to show a man in a grey sweatsuit, later identified as Robertson, following a woman in a black t-shirt. Another woman, his wife, can be seen in the blurred video trying to catch up to Robertson.
As the woman in the black t-shirt leaves the gas station, officers in a Jersey City police vehicle spotted the Robertsons and quickly pull up. When cops approach, Robertson can be seen putting his wife in a headlock and moving his arm out of his sweatshirt pocket.
Within seconds, Polanco opened fire. Both Robertsons fell to the ground with gunshot wounds.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims that the footage does not show Robertson holding a gun. It's not clear from the footage, which is blurred, whether he was holding a firearm. The video showed officers discussing locating a gun while securing the scene.
Roberston's attorney, Paul Clark, said in a statement that Polanco violated state policy which requires officers to use deadly force as a last resort.
We have reached out to Jersey City and the OAG for comment.