The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office released body cam footage of police officers shooting and killing a man who attacked them with a knife.
On June 22, police responded to the 600 block of N. Kentucky Avenue in Atlantic City for a hit-and-run crash with injuries. After officers arrived, a man who was not involved in the crash, identified as 32-year-old Timothy Deal, approached them.
Body cam footage shows Deal walking toward the officers while armed with a knife. One officer tells him twice to "put it down." Deal then swings at the officer with the knife and the officer opens fire.
Deal is struck and falls to the ground. The entire ordeal lasts for a few seconds.
“I might be stabbed, I’m not sure,” one of the officers says immediately after the shooting.
He then warns his fellow officer that Deal still has a knife in his hand.
“Drop it motherf*****,” the officer yells toward the fallen Deal.
Deal drops the knife and the officers handcuff him.
Police say the officer was stabbed by Deal before he opened fire. The officer and Deal were both taken to the AtlantiCare Medical Center City Campus Trauma Center. Deal was pronounced dead while the officer was treated and released.
An autopsy determined Deal died from multiple gunshot wounds. The Division of Criminal Justice was notified and the Atlantic County Major Crimes Unit is investigating.
Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner called the shooting “tragic” while also stating that it should not be compared to incidents in which unarmed people were assaulted and killed.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that a sworn police officer reported to the scene of an accident to protect the public, and was attacked for no apparent reason,” Tyner said. “The officer defended himself and protected the public from untold harm.”
The video was released the day of Deal's funeral. His father Michael King said he was shown a different video of the shooting last week and still has several questions about the incident.
"Was it justified? Yes. But we need to know what happened between point A and point B," King said. "What brought this about?"
Joseph Blaettler, the former Deputy Chief of Union City and an expert in the use of force, told NBC10 the officer in the video retreated and gave commands.
"If they do find something that occurred before this, it still would be a justifiable shooting," Blaettler said. "It's what's in the mind of the officer the moment he fired his weapon. And it's clear in his mind that guy was coming to stab him."
County prosecutors are usually charged with investigating police-involved shootings. But through a 2006 directive from the state Attorney General's office and a supplemental addition in 2015, the AG has broad oversight of prosecutors' findings.
Prosecutors can choose, after investigating a shooting, to present their findings to a 23-person grand jury. But if a prosecutor determines the officer in a shooting was justified in the use of deadly force, a grand jury can be declined. At that point, the AG will review the case and findings to make a final determination of whether or not a grand jury is necessary. No time frame for completing such an investigation is mandated in the directive or supplemental.