TRENTON — The Attorney General’s Office today released an audio recording of a 9-1-1 call as well as footage from police body-worn cameras related to a fatal police-involved shooting on July 29, 2023, in Elizabeth, N.J. The decedent was previously identified as Estiben Alegria-Hurtado, 42, of Elizabeth. The officer who fired his service weapon has been identified as Officer Steven Lazo of the Elizabeth Police Department.
The fatal shooting is under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The recordings are being released pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Investigators previously met with the family of Mr. Alegria-Hurtado to provide them an opportunity to review the recordings before they were publicly released.
According to the preliminary investigation, on July 29 at 7:59 a.m., members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to 9-1-1 calls regarding a dispute and an unwanted individual at a multifamily residence on Amity Street in Elizabeth. At approximately 8:03 a.m. police were dispatched and arrived on the scene at 8:04 a.m. Within the residence, police encountered Mr. Alegria-Hurtado, who was holding a kitchen knife and involved in a dispute with a female resident. At the time the officers entered and walked to the rear of the home, two males were attempting to restrain Mr. Alegria-Hurtado. As the officers approached, the males released Mr. Alegria-Hurtado, who was still in possession of a knife and in close proximity to the female. At 8:05 a.m., Elizabeth Police Officer Steven Lazo discharged his firearm once, striking Mr. Alegria-Hurtado. Authorities recovered the knife near Mr. Algeria-Hurtado.
Officers then rendered aid to Mr. Algeria-Hurtado, who was subsequently transported by emergency medical personnel to University Hospital in Newark. He was pronounced deceased at 11:26 p.m. Sunday, July 30.
The recordings are available here: https://njoag.box.com/s/efsgup1ztmia65cy4c82hioppc3a3n3k
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.
Further information about how fatal police encounters are investigated in New Jersey under the Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website at http://www.njoag.gov/independent-prosecutor/