For Immediate Release: January 12, 2022
Office of The Attorney General
– Andrew J. Bruck, Acting Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director
Note: Members of the press can email the Communications Office to obtain a link to download the recordings.
Paterson, N.J. – The Attorney General’s Office today released video footage from civilian and storefront cameras, a city closed-circuit TV camera, and a police body-worn camera, as well as radio transmissions and 911 calls related to a fatal police-involved shooting that occurred on Dec. 29, 2021, in Paterson, N.J. The decedent has been identified as Thelonious McKnight, 25, of Paterson, N.J.
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 met today with Mr. McKnight’s family to review the recordings.
According to the preliminary investigation, officers of the Paterson Police Department were investigating an earlier incident when they encountered Mr. McKnight near East Main Street and Hillman Street shortly before 9 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2021. During the encounter, Paterson Police Detective Mohammed Bashir fired his 40-caliber service weapon, fatally wounding Mr. McKnight. Fourteen 40-caliber shell casings were recovered from the scene. A 9mm handgun was recovered near Mr. McKnight along with nine 9mm shell casings. Police and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Mr. McKnight, and he was pronounced deceased at the scene by a physician from St. Joseph’s University Medical Center at 9:11 p.m.
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.
A copy of the Directive is available at this link:
and a summary of that 10-step process is available at this link: