Cleared: Grand Jury Finds Fatal Police Shooting Of Attacker Pointing Gun At Woman Was Justified

A Passaic man had a gun pointed at a kneeling woman in front of him when a city police officer shot and killed him, authorities said Friday.

Passaic police
Passaic police Photo Credit: COURTESY: Passaic PD

Surveillance video of the incident convinced a state grand jury to clear the officer Friday of any criminality in the death of 24-year-old Randy Sanchez nearly a year ago.

Passaic police responding to several 911 calls of shots fired shortly after 11:30 p.m. Jan. 31 spotted three men standing on Myrtle Avenue, authorities said.

Two of the men immediately ran, they said.

Sanchez “pointed a handgun at the officers’ arriving vehicle before running north on Myrtle Avenue in the direction of a fleeing woman,” said Thomas J. Eicher, director of the New Jersey Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.

Sanchez overtook the woman, pointing the gun at her, after she fell near the corner of Harrrison Street, Eicher said.

The woman was “on her knees and screaming,” he said.

An officer who’d chased him identified himself and shouted at Sanchez to stop, Eicher said.

Surveillance video captured by a camera on Harrison Street showed that Sanchez “instead swung the handgun at the woman, appearing to strike her with the weapon” and forcing the officer to again order him to stop, he said.

A civilian witness also testified that he saw Sanchez standing over the woman and heard an officer say, “Stop right there or I will shoot you!”

“Ignoring the order, Sanchez raised the gun to shoulder level at the woman,” Eicher said. “As he did so, he also began to turn his head and body toward [the officer].”

The officer then “fired his 9mm service pistol six times at Sanchez,” the director said. “Sanchez fell to the ground while still holding the handgun.”

The officer approached Sanchez and kicked the .32-caliber revolver from his hands, he said.

Sanchez was pronounced dead at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic a short time later.

An autopsy determined that Sanchez died as a result of three gunshot wounds to the torso and upper left arm, Eicher said.

As Eicher noted: “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 investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Task Force included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of security video and autopsy results from the medical examiner.

After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the state grand jury concluded its deliberations Friday and voted “no bill” -- meaning they found that the actions of the police officer who shot Sanchez were justified and that no charges should be filed against him. 

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