The Attorney General’s Office today released audio and video related to a fatal police-involved shooting that occurred on January 6 in Keansburg.
The decedent has been identified as James Sutton, 55, of Keansburg.
The fatal shooting remains under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).
The recordings are being released in response to an OPRA request and pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Investigators had met previously with Mr. Sutton’s family to review the recordings.
According to the preliminary investigation, at approximately 3:21 p.m. on January 6, multiple 911 calls were received by the Keansburg Police Department reporting a robbery in progress at a pharmacy at 199 Main Street. Officers of the Keansburg Police Department responded.
The investigation found that, when officers arrived, Mr. Sutton was holding a large knife and threatening to harm an employee of the pharmacy.
According to officials, one officer was stabbed by Mr. Sutton. Multiple officers fired their service weapons, striking Mr. Sutton, who was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Officials said that the officers who discharged their service weapons have been identified as Officer Jillian Putkowski, Detective Christopher Rogan, and Detective Richard Johnson.
Prior to the officers discharging their service weapons, the male officer who was stabbed and Officer Putkowski fired Tasers at Mr. Sutton. The officer who was stabbed is recovering.
The recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing, and no further information is being released at this time.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.
Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations.
The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner.
Under both state law and the Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed.