By: Yuritza Arroyo
Mercer County authorities announced that the Prosecutor's Office (MCPO) has completed its investigation into the March 22, 2021, use of force by a federal agent and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified.
According to officials, the MCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force.
Officials say the investigation was conducted in accordance with the Attorney General's Independent Prosecutor Directives.
Pursuant to the Directives, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the special agent in this case was justified.
According to the Attorney General's Office, which concurred with the MCPO's conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the grand jury.
Because this was a non-fatal shooting, presentation to the grand jury was not required under Senate Bill 1036, which modified N.J. Statutes 52:17B-107, and requires the Attorney General to conduct investigations of fatal police encounters and present them to the grand jury.
On March 22, 2021, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were conducting a joint undercover investigation involving the purchase of handguns.
Authorities say during the undercover transaction, the suspect pointed a handgun at an ATF special agent and demanded the money. During this robbery, the agent turned over United States currency and was ordered to exit the vehicle.
According to authorities, the agent exited the vehicle, stepped toward the rear of the undercover vehicle, and fired his weapon at the armed suspect. The suspect also fired his weapon at the undercover agent and then exited the vehicle and fled on foot on Atlantic Avenue.
Authorities say while fleeing on Atlantic Avenue, there was an additional exchange of gunfire. Minutes later, Jabree Johnson arrived at Capital Health Regional Medical Center with a non-fatal gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Johnson was determined to be the suspect. Johnson was charged with one count of assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon, one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon of an individual with custody of federal property, and one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in which the firearm was discharged.
That federal case is currently pending.
The ATF special agent stated he was in fear for his own life and that of his partner when Mr. Johnson pointed a loaded firearm at him during the robbery.
The agent believed that discharging his weapon was necessary for the protection of his life and that of his partner.
An independent analysis of the undisputed material facts led to the determination that the agent’s beliefs were reasonable, and the use of force in this matter was justified pursuant to all applicable laws and the Attorney General Guidelines.