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WATCH NOW: Video shows chaotic minutes before Vineland police fatally shoot backhoe driver
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WATCH NOW: Video shows chaotic minutes before Vineland police fatally shoot backhoe driver

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Videos released Thursday by the state show the chaotic final minutes before the fatal shooting by police of a runaway backhoe driver last month in Vineland.

Footage captured from neighboring houses showed the backhoe, driven by Joshua Gonzalez, 20, of Millville, driving erratically at the Penn Lincoln Mobile Home Park and causing extensive damage.

The videos showed Gonzalez destroying property, hitting houses and turning over emergency vehicles.

Gonzalez was fatally shot by a Vineland police officer in the early morning confrontation Dec. 18. Body cam footage shows police firing on the backhoe, and Gonzalez could be seen slumped over in the cockpit of the construction equipment.

After police pulled Gonzalez from the backhoe, they put him in handcuffs and immediately began to administer life-saving tactics with the aid of emergency medical personnel.

One officer could be heard yelling “CPR” before another officer began chest compressions, the video showed.

Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene less than 20 minutes after the shooting. Three Vineland officers were treated for minor injuries.

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Officers were dispatched to the area of West Park Drive after a 911 caller reported someone “operating a construction backhoe in an erratic manner,” authorities said last month.

Several officers encountered Gonzalez operating the backhoe about 5 a.m. and tried to stop him for about a half hour, without success.

While officers tried to stop him, Vineland police Sgt. Louis Platania fired his weapon, fatally wounding Gonzalez.

The fatal shooting remains under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability. Under state rules, the Attorney General’s Office investigates any time there is a police-involved death or death in police custody in New Jersey.

“Gonzalez caused extensive damage to several residences and vehicles, including two police cars, an ambulance, and an occupied civilian vehicle,” the Attorney General’s Office said last month.

One cellphone video showed Gonzalez turning over a vehicle, and another showed a vehicle on its side with smoke coming from it up against the front steps of a home. A different cellphone video showed Gonzalez ramming a police car.

Surveillance video from one house showed Gonzalez driving in the front yard and damaging landscaping decorations. Different video from what appeared to be the same home showed Gonzalez ramming the backhoe into the side of the house before driving off with police in pursuit.

Police followed Gonzalez down the street to the end of a cul-de-sac where he was subsequently shot and killed.

Platania, who fired the fatal shots, has been involved in two other police-involved deaths in recent years.

He was one of three officers involved in the shooting death of Rashaun Washington, 37, of Camden, on July 14, 2018. Platania did not fire the fatal shots in that incident. He also was one of two officers at the scene in the death of Phillip White, who died in police custody March 31, 2015.

Contact John Russo: 609-272-7184

Twitter: @ACPress_Russo


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Digital producer

I graduated from Rowan University in 2011 where I studied journalism. I covered local high school and college sports at the South Jersey Times and Vineland Daily Journal. I have been a sports reporter with The Press since July 2013

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