State Grand Jury Declines to Criminally Charge Officers Involved in Fatal Shooting in Jersey City on May 24, 2022

For Immediate Release: October 3, 2023

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Dan Prochilo

TRENTON — A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Joseph Robertson, 59, of Jersey City, who was fatally shot by a Jersey City police officer on May 24, 2022.

Mr. Robertson’s death was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents serving on the state grand jury in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive of 2019 (the “Directive”). In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Directive.

The investigation included witness interviews, photographs, medical records, review of video footage, as well as autopsy results from the medical examiner. This evidence, including video of the incident, was presented to a state grand jury. After hearing the testimony and evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on Monday, October 2, 2023, and voted “no bill,” meaning no criminal charges should be filed against Officer Omar Polanco of the Jersey City Police Department.

According to the investigation, uniformed officers of the Jersey City Police Department responded to a 911 call made shortly after 11:56 p.m., reporting a domestic dispute involving a man with a gun near the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and West Side Avenue in Jersey City. When officers arrived, they encountered Mr. Robertson and a woman near the BP gas station. Mr. Robertson pointed a firearm at the woman. Officer Polanco ordered him to drop the weapon. Mr. Robertson did not comply, but instead pulled the woman closer to him and placed her in a headlock with the firearm pointed at her. Mr. Robertson fired his weapon one time, striking the woman in the chest. In response Officer Polanco fired his weapon twice, and both shots struck Mr. Robertson, fatally wounding him. The police recovered Mr. Robinson’s firearm at the scene.

Officers and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Mr. Robertson, and he was pronounced deceased at the scene at 12:19 a.m. The woman was also provided with medical attention and sustained a non-fatal injury.

Video footage and a 911 call capturing the events surrounding the shooting were previously released. Those recordings are available here:

A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct 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. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved. The grand jury is instructed on the elements of the potential criminal offenses, including criminal homicide offenses, that could be brought and the grand jury is instructed on self-defense and other forms of legal justification.

A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any officers should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.

The Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website and is available here: Independent Prosecutor Directive

OPIA’s standard operating procedures for grand jury presentations of investigations involving fatal police encounters are also posted on the Attorney General’s website, and are available here: OPIA Grand Jury SOPs


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