***UPDATED INFORMATION INCLUDING IDENTITY OF DECEDENT AND OFFICER***
Vineland, N.J. – The Attorney General’s Office is conducting an investigation of a fatal police shooting that occurred on December 18, 2021 in Vineland, N.J. One male civilian sustained fatal injuries.
The decedent has been identified as Joshua Gonzalez, 20, of Millville, NJ. The member of the Vineland Police Department who fired at Mr. Gonzalez is Sgt. Louis Platania.
According to the preliminary investigation, members of the Vineland Police were dispatched to the area of West Park Drive to respond to a 911 call of an individual operating a construction backhoe in an erratic manner. At approximately 5:00 a.m., several Vineland police officers encountered the construction backhoe being operated by Mr. Gonzalez. The police officers attempted to stop him for approximately thirty minutes, during which time Mr. Gonzalez caused extensive damage to several residences and vehicles, including two police cars, an ambulance, and an occupied civilian vehicle.
While the officers were attempting to stop Mr. Gonzalez, Sgt. Louis Platania of the Vineland Police Department fired his weapon fatally wounding Mr. Gonzalez. Medical aid was rendered by officers and emergency medical personnel. Mr. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 5:48 a.m.
Three Vineland police officers sustained minor injuries during the incident. They were treated and released.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, which implements the statutory requirement that the Attorney General’s Office conduct the investigation of any 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, and which establishes clear standards and procedures for conducting such investigations.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.