Body camera footage shows what happened before man was fatally shot by Vineland officer
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
“I don’t even want to be here no more, man,” Rashaun Washington says just minutes before he is fatally shot by Vineland police. Washington claimed to have an explosive device wrapped in a T-shirt as police tried to talk him down, body camera footage released by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office shows. “Once I drop this, it’s going to go off regardless,” he is heard saying about 14 minutes into the footage. “Blow my brains out,” he says at one point. “A couple shots to the head. Other than that, a couple of us going regardless.” The 26-minute video gives a window into a troubled man who seems intent on dying, as an officer desperately tries to talk him down. “No one has to die,” he tells Washington. “No one has to die. We can talk about this. We can figure this out.” But Washington, 37, continuously tells him, “it’s over.” “I’m gonna die right here and right now,” Washington says at one point. “You’re all going to have to shoot me in my head.”
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Washington talks about having just returned home from prison in December. “I went to prison,” he says about 11 minutes in. “I lost everything I had. My family’s gone. My girl left me with my kids and moved on.” The officer asks Washington about his children. “You need to be there for them,” the officer says. “They’re 11 and 13, man.” “They’re better off without me,” Washington replies. “They’re not. Trust me,” the officer says. “You’re their father. They need their father.” After they go back and forth, Washington says, “I don’t even want to be here no more, man. All I ever wanted was a better life for my children.” As the video goes on, the officer continues trying to reason with Washington as he makes sure emergency medical workers are on standby and that any non-essential people are at a safe distance. At one point, he gives an update over his radio: “Subject has something in his hand covered by a shirt. We can’t tell what it is. He says if he takes off the lid, it’ll explode and take all of us all out.” Police were called to the home at Boulevard and Fourth streets for a suspicious man on a porch. “They don’t know who he is,” the officer is told over his radio. “They pulled in the driveway and he was there. They didn’t see what was in his hands.” Washington talks about having just run from Virtua Hospital and makes mention of stealing a car. No information about that has been released. As the standoff comes to an end, the officers screams for Washington to stay back as the man steps forward and then backs up several times. “Don’t make me shoot you,” the officer says. As Washington then takes off sideways, another officer can’t be heard yelling, “Don’t! Don’t! Don’t!” Then three shots, followed by the shout of “Damn it!” The dog then comes in as officers spray Washington, who appears to still be moving. “Shots fired, shots fired,” the officers yells into his radio. “Have EMS move in immediately.” An officer is seen sitting Washington up, “Stay with me. Stay with me.” They then grab the shirt he had and appear to place it on his wound. Inside the shirt, Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae has said, were garden shears with an 8¼ blade.