Rashaun Washington is the third unarmed Black man fatally shot by officers from the Vineland Police Department since 2016, and residents are saying enough is enough.
Washington was shot on the morning of July 21 when police responded to a report of a shirtless man “acting suspiciously” on the front porch of a home. While it was not clear at the time what exchange police and Washington had, the ordeal ended with officers firing three times, according to witnesses, killing Washington.
Last week, the Vineland Police Department released the transcript of the 911 call that came in reporting Washington. The department also released body cam video of the incident. The officer who fired has been identified as Sgt. Brian Armstrong.
On the phone call a 911 operator transferred the call to a country dispatcher. The caller said they saw “a Black dude, he’s sitting there” on the porch of a home that wasn’t his. The caller also said Washington looked like he was “on something.” The caller said Washington was not wearing a shirt and did not have a weapon.
However, the dispatcher noted that Washington “has something under his white shirt and is stating for police to ‘shoot him/kill him’ once police arrived” and that the “male subject is reporting to officers on location that he has an explosive device that will take him…out.”
Body cam footage shows officers arriving on scene asking Washington to stay calm. Police said Washington was holding something wrapped in his shirt and they ordered him to put it down. Washington then moved toward the officers before they opened fire.
The item Washington had wrapped in his shirt was later found to be 8-inch garden shears.
Since the killing, demonstrators have taken to the streets to condemn the shooting. One major rally took place last Thursday in Vineland.
“They didn’t have to shoot him,” Washington’s mother, Georgette, said at the rally. “They could have tazed him. Or did anything. He never had no bomb. He didn’t have nothing. And in the broad daylight, they said, they’re gonna have to kill him, and that’s what they wanted to do.”