Dash cam footage released Monday shows several officers fire dozens of bullets at a man who started shooting at police after he led them on a 10-mile high-speed car chase.
Police fatally shot 27-year-old Antoquan Watson, of Williamstown, in March of 2014. In 2015, a grand jury declined to indict the seven officers involved in the incident.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office said it was releasing the footage following a New Jersey Supreme Court decision earlier this month that ruled dash cam footage of fatal shootings involving police should be made public.
The chase began after police received a report that Watson had brought a gun into Pleasantville's La Esconda II Restaurant, where he was a regular customer known to employees.
A waitress at the restaurant stated that Watson ordered two beers and paid with cash after two credit cards failed, and that he appeared drunk and was mumbling to himself, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. Several patrons reported seeing a gun in Watson's right hand as he paid the bill and left the restaurant, and said he pointed the gun toward the ceiling, but did not threaten anyone in the restaurant or aim the weapon in their direction.
Police responded to the restaurant's parking lot and attempted to speak with Watson, who allegedly refused to roll down his window and eventually took off on the Black Horse Pike.
In the dash cam video, officers pursue Watson's black SUV through city streets and along highways as he runs red lights and swerves around other drivers. He led officers through Pleasantville, Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic City, driving between 50 and 85 miles per hour and firing a round at officers while driving, authorities said.
Eventually, Watson's car collides with an uninvolved SUV at an intersection, causing his vehicle to spin around in the middle of the roadway.
Watson then steps out of the vehicle, gun pointed toward officers, and begins firing.
(So right here folks, story is over. Seven cops returned fire, averaging 6 shots a piece. So while 45 shots may sound high to some, under the circumstances it is acceptable. Sorry Springsteen, no new song material here! Glad none of the cops were hit.-Mez )
Seven officers, four from Pleasantville and three from Atlantic City, proceed to shoot Watson 45 times, continuing to fire as he falls to the ground, motionless.
In an investigation of the shooting, several officers stated that they believed Watson was wearing body armor, as he was able to continue walking once hit by several bullets, authorities said. An autopsy later revealed that he had PCP in his system.
A use of force expert reviewed the scene and physical evidence, and ruled that the officers had taken lawful action against Watson given the circumstances.
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