JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) — Lisa Mendez spoke to reporters Monday outside her home on Randolph Avenue in Jersey City about her slain nephew, 52-year-old Andrew Jerome Washington.

Mendez is outraged over how Washington’s mental health crisis was handled, which she said began with a call to the Jersey City Medical Center’s 24/7 psychiatric emergency crisis hotline, and ended with police fatally shooting Washington inside his second-floor apartment.

“We were concerned that he was going to hurt himself, not anyone else,” said Mendez. “We called the crisis center. They switched her over to the paramedics. They called the SWAT team instead.”

An 18-year-old woman who wished to remain anonymous said she and her family live two floors below Washington’s apartment and knew him for more than a decade.

“They broke the door open and then I heard to big booms,” the 18-year-old woman said. “It was unnecessary for all that. The SWAT team shouldn’t have been called in.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop defended the Jersey City Medical Center EMTs who initially arrived, and subsequently called in the police out of fear for their safety.

“They entered and they were charged by Mr. Washington with a knife in hand, and they deployed force, using both a firearm and a Taser,” Fulop said. “We do feel that the use of force yesterday was justified based on the circumstances and in line with police department training.”

Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea added, “There’s kind of a mistaken impression that we can bring psychiatrists to all of these jobs and have them talk to the person. We can only introduce an unarmed civilian into this job if the area is secure. And in this case, it was not secure.”

Mendez said Washington struggled with various psychiatric issues for decades, and added the family would often call the crisis hotline for help. She wonders if her nephew would be alive today if a specially trained, non-law enforcement, mental health crisis interventionist would have handled the negotiations, instead of the dispatched EMTs who in turn called in the police.

“That’s why we kept calling the crisis center because we didn’t want the police involved. Because for some strange reason this is how they react,” said Mendez.

It’s not the first time Washington had an encounter with the police involving bullets. His family said he was shot in the arm by police about a decade ago during a previous mental health crisis.

PIX11 News reached out to the Jersey City Medical Center about its dispatch protocols, specifically about who gets sent out. The medical center declined to comment, citing an open investigation.

As in other fatal police-involved shootings, the New Jersey attorney general’s office is handling the investigation.

There is police body-camera video. Fulop is pushing for the release of the video clips, which he said will show the officers were justified in their actions.

Mendez said the family is planning to retain an attorney in an effort to hold accountable everyone who played a role in her nephew’s death.