An Asbury Park police officer was justified in shooting an emotionally disturbed man to stop him from stabbing another officer with a pair of scissors, a state grand jury found.
Among the evidence panel members reviewed was clear, graphic police bodycam video showing the fatal confrontation from July 23, 2019.
Officers had responded to a call shortly before 10:30 p.m. of a man who was “behaving erratically” and threatened to “commit violence against another person” at the Asbury Inn on 7th Avenue, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck said.
They and paramedics first tried to talk with Manzo, who is seen and heard slamming the door on them.
'We're not trying to arrest you,” an officer tells him. “We're just trying to have a conversation, man.”
“I don't have to answer any questions,” Manzo shouts through the closed door. “I know my rights.”
A paramedic takes a door, asking through the door if he can get some medical information “to make sure you're all right.”
Manzo refuses and tells everyone to leave.
Eventually, an officer opens the door and Manzo charges into the hallway, where he “immediately attempted to stab the officer with a pair of scissors,” Bruck said.
Another officer fires five shots and Manzo slumps to the floor.
He was taken to nearby Jersey Shore University Medical Center and was pronounced dead there at 10:52 p.m., the attorney general said.
State law and his own guidelines require Bruck's office to investigate deaths that occur “during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody," he said.
The guidelines guarantee that the investigation is done “in a full, impartial and transparent manner."
Once the investigation is complete, the results are presented to a grand jury -- ordinarily consisting of 16 to 23 citizens -- that determines whether or not criminal charges are in order.
Evidence presented to the grand jury included the body cam video of the responding officers and statements from a civilian witness, Bruck said.
After reviewing it all, the grand jurors “found the actions of the officer were justified,” he said.
“An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm,” the attorney general noted.
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