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Force justified in 2018 Millville fatal police shooting, prosecutor says
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Force justified in 2018 Millville fatal police shooting, prosecutor says

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BRIDGETON — One Millville and two Winslow Township police officers were found legally justified in their use of force in the 2018 shooting death of Jose M. Pietri, officials said.

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office completed its investigation into the shooting, according to a Tuesday news release from the agency. The state Attorney General’s Office, through a separate review, concluded the same, and the case will not go before a grand jury.

None of the identities of the three officers involved in the shooting was released; they were called Officer No. 1, Officer No. 2 and Officer No. 3 in the document.

“Officer No. 3’s actions demonstrate that he was in fear for his life when he discharged his weapon and that discharging his weapon was necessary for the protection of himself,” according to the release. “The actions and statements of Officer Nos. 1 and 2 likewise show a reasonable belief that their conduct in using deadly force was necessary to protect the life of Officer No. 3.”

At 6:16 a.m. April 14, 2018, officers from the Winslow Township Police Department responded to a homicide on Woodhaven Way in Sicklerville, Camden County, according to the release. Several officers watched surveillance video at a neighbor’s home, which showed the suspect leaving in the victim’s Kia Sorento with a young black woman in the front passenger seat.

One of the officers involved in the shooting was told by a neighbor that the suspect’s name was Jose, later identified as Pietri, 55, of Pennsville, Salem County, according to the release. The car was seen later near the site of the homicide and officers attempted to stop it, but it sped away.

After it was confirmed that the car belonged to the homicide victim, officers pursued it, according to the release. One of the Winslow officers reached the pursuit on Tuckahoe Road at Coles Mill Road, while the other caught up near Corkery Lane.

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Pietri called 911, telling a dispatcher from Gloucester County Communications that he was being chased, that there was a kid in the car and that he had a gun, according to the release. The call disconnected when the dispatcher asked why police were chasing him, and the information was broadcast to multiple Winslow officers.

The chase continued to Millville, where a city police officer became the lead car before the SUV went to the dead end of Holly Berry Lane, according to the release. It attempted to turn around but was stuck on a curb and the officers stopped their patrol cars, with the two Winslow officers each getting a rifle out of the trunk of their car before taking cover.

The teenage passenger of the car ran from the right side of the SUV with her hands raised and an officer directed her to the ground, according to the release. Pietri opened the driver’s side door and got out of the car holding a black handgun.

After he was commanded to put his hands up and drop the gun, Pietri began to raise the handgun toward an officer, and the officer discharged his gun at him, according to the release.

The other two officers saw Pietri raise the gun toward the officer and indicated they believed Pietri was going to fire it, according to the release. The other two officers also discharged their weapons at Pietri.

The officers placed Pietri in handcuffs, then removed them so he could get first aid, according to the release. A black RG 23 .22 LR revolver belonging to Pietri was found wedged under the left front tire of the car, and 17 live rounds of ammunition were found in Pietri’s pants.

The State Police Ballistic Laboratory found the revolver was inoperable due to the damage it sustained but was easily restored and there were two discharged shell casings in the cylinder, according to the release.

An autopsy completed a day after the shooting, with a final report received Oct. 2, 2018, found Pietri had been shot four times, according to the release. The cause of death was identified as multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death was homicide.

Two of the officers discharged their weapons 11 times each, while the other fired 13 times, according to the release.

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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