The police union representing a New Jersey police officer who recently gunned down an unarmed father of two said the officer involved was simply “protecting society.”
On Saturday, 37-year-old Rashaun Washington was shot and killed by Vineland, New Jersey police while unarmed and shirtless on his own front lawn. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, Washington was holding a water bottle in his hand when he was shot and killed after just ten minutes.
“The guy came around the car and he came toward them and they shot him three times,” witness Christopher Cueves told reporters.
The officer who killed Washington is currently on paid leave. However, Peter Alfinito, a spokesman for the Burlington County Fraternal Order of Police — the police union representing Vineland officers — praised the officer who killed him, saying that he was doing his duty in the face of uncertainty.
“[Police are] doing their number one job — protecting society,” Alfinito told NBC 10. “Is he on drugs, does he have a mental problem, is he wanted for homicide?”
But Washington’s father, Reginald Miller, said there was no reason for his son to die, and that the video of his death would “traumatize [Washington’s] kids for the rest of their lives.” He added that even if his son rushed at officers, they should have been trained to arrest him without taking his life.
“I mean, who could he hurt? You’ve got 15 cops, I don’t know how many of them, standing there. If he jumps one, you’re gonna tell me y’all can’t subdue him?” Miller said.
“There’s all these officers and everybody’s got guns pointed at him. They got high-powered assault rifles. They got a dog barking at him and he’s got nothing in his hand but a water bottle and a T-shirt,” Miller continued. “He had to feel threatened with everybody pointing everything at him.”
After Washington was shot, a police dog was set loose on him, and Miller said the dog bit his son on the face as he died. It hasn’t yet been revealed what prompted officers to go to Washington’s home or what prompted the shooting in the first place, other than a call of a man reportedly “acting suspiciously.”
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.