JERSEY CITY, N.J. (PIX11) — Dozens of family members, friends, and community activists rallied outside Jersey City City Hall Wednesday night, demanding justice for Drew Washington.
Washington was shot and killed inside his home by Jersey City Police on Aug. 27 amid a mental-health emergency. Washington’s family said they called for a crisis intervention team to help the 52-year-old, but none were available.
“We didn’t call for police,” said Doris ‘Toni’ Ervin, Drew’s aunt. “They called hired, trained gunman to come in, that were supposed to come in to give him help. And he was in a mental crisis. He wasn’t a criminal.”
In the days following Washington’s death, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said the use of police force was justified because Washington reportedly charged at officers with a knife.
Washington’s loved ones, however, disagree.
“I know justice has not been served,” said Tish Jackson, a family friend. “To see his beautiful smile on the TV screen with that headline was unbearable,” said Pamela Brown, another family friend.
The family’s legal team has vowed to get the answers.
“We know that there are standards in place that police are to follow in dealing with a mental health emergency,” said attorney Beth Baldinger. “And we don’t know why those were not followed in this case.”
Because Washington’s death was a police-involved shooting, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General is obligated to investigate. The office said it has no current update on its investigation.
In 2021, the AG’s office announced a pilot program called ‘ARRIVE Together,’ pairing police with trained mental health professionals to respond jointly to 911 mental health emergencies. The initiative has expanded to several New Jersey counties – including Hudson County – but is not yet in Jersey City.
In a statement to PIX11 News, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office wrote:
“Bringing ARRIVE statewide to every community in New Jersey relies on strong and willing partnerships with local government. We hope that the success of the program in other municipalities across the State—including in Bayonne—encourages the leaders in Jersey City to embrace this program. We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the police department and the service providers of Jersey City to bring this incredible program to the city’s nearly 300,000 residents.”
PIX11 News also contacted Fulop for comment on Wednesday night’s rally but has not heard back.