Vineland, N.J. – The Attorney General’s Office today released two 911 calls and video footage from four body-worn cameras, two civilian cell phones, and two residential surveillance cameras related to a fatal police-involved shooting that occurred on December 18, 2021 in Vineland, N.J. The decedent has been identified as Joshua Gonzalez, 20 of Millville, N.J.
The fatal shooting remains under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The recordings are being released in response to an OPRA request and pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Investigators met today with Mr. Gonzalez’s family to review the recordings.
According to the preliminary investigation, members of the Vineland Police Department were dispatched to the area of West Park Drive to respond to a 911 call of an individual operating a construction backhoe in an erratic manner. At approximately 5:00 a.m., several Vineland police officers encountered the construction backhoe being operated by Mr. Gonzalez. The police officers attempted to stop him for approximately thirty minutes, during which time Mr. Gonzalez caused extensive damage to several residences and vehicles, including three police cars, an ambulance, and an occupied civilian vehicle.
While the officers were attempting to stop Mr. Gonzalez, Sgt. Louis Platania of the Vineland Police Department fired his weapon, fatally wounding Mr. Gonzalez. Medical aid was rendered by officers and emergency medical personnel. Mr. Gonzalez was pronounced deceased at the scene at approximately 5:48 a.m.
Three Vineland police officers sustained minor injuries during the incident. They were treated and released.
The recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner. Under both state law and the Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed.