Dramatic video shows police fatally shoot man who was driving a backhoe into homes and cars

·2 min read

Video footage shows a construction backhoe rampaging through a suburban New Jersey neighbourhood, destroying cars and ramming houses, before the driver was fatally shot by police.

Joshua Gonzalez, 20, from Millville, was killed by police who were responding to reports of a backhoe driving erratically through Vineland around 5am on 18 December, New Jersey Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck said in a press release.

The dramatic footage, released by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, was captured by four officers’ bodycams, two witnesses’ cell phones and surveillance cameras.

It shows the bulldozer being deliberately driven into cars, several homes, three police vehicles and an ambulance, causing “extensive damage”, the Attorney General’s statement said.

As officers were trying to stop the backhoe, a police officer fired his weapon fatally wounding Mr Gonzalez, the statement said.

The officer was named as Sergeant Louis Platania of the Vineland Police Department.

Officers and emergency responders provided first aid, but Mr Gonzalez died at the scene.

Three officers from the Vineland Police Department sustained minor injuries during the incident.

A man was fatally shot by police in New Jersey last month after driving a bulldozer into several cars and houses (New Jersey Attorney General office)
A man was fatally shot by police in New Jersey last month after driving a bulldozer into several cars and houses (New Jersey Attorney General office)

The fatal shooting is under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).

Investigators from the unit met with Mr Gonzalez’s family to review the recordings prior to their public release.

In 911 calls and video released by the Attorney General’s office, local residents can be heard screaming for help during the destructive rampage.

An operator asks one caller: “So, he’s trying to hit a building?”

“That’s what it looks like. Everyone just ran inside,” the witness responds.

A woman had been driving to work when a backhoe ‘totaled’ her red sedan in Vineland, New Jersey, last month (Theresa Marie)
A woman had been driving to work when a backhoe ‘totaled’ her red sedan in Vineland, New Jersey, last month (Theresa Marie)

In a separate body worn camera footage, an officer comes across a female motorist whose car had just been struck by the backhoe as she was inside.

“Are you alright?” the officer asks.

“No, I’m in shock,” she replies. “I was going to work.”

The woman, Theresa Jeffrey, told KYW-TV soon after last month’s incident that it had been a terrifying experience.

“I’m just so traumatised, and I can’t stop crying about it,” Ms Jeffrey said.

“Like, it’s very scary when you see a bulldozer just like coming at you and hitting your car.”

Police have not released any information about a possible motive.

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