PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are investigating a police-involved shooting that left a mentally challenged man dead in Perth Amboy.
Dixon Rodriguez died Tuesday afternoon just steps from his Hall Avenue home. Police shot and killed the 32-year-old man after he allegedly tried to attack them.
Police said a knife was found in his hand, but his family doesn’t believe it.
“He did not have a weapon,” his brother, Juan Kelison Rodriguez, said. “That’s their story right? That’s why an investigation is made.”
His aunt Carmen Rodriguez said he had just run out of medication and as usual, when his mother needed to get him to the doctor, she called 911 for assistance.
“When the police come all the time he has his hands in his pockets and the lady, the police woman, she came and told Dixon ‘show identification’ and she tried to pull his hands out and she thinks he had something in his pockets and she shot him,” she said. “She shot him.”
Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the shooting. The entire incident was captured on surveillance video.
“We can see there was a conversation and he attacked one of the officers, at which time shots were fired, and the person died subsequently,” said Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey.
The prosecutor’s office is investigating the incident, which is the standard policy in police-involved shootings. Investigators confiscated surveillance cameras in the area and are searching for more.
Neighbors described Rodriguez as gentle and passive and say he spent his days quietly lingering on the sidewalk asking for money and cigarettes.
Neighbors said Rodriguez always kept his hands jammed in his pockets and many seem to think the officer may have felt threatened when he refused to remove them to show identification.
“She reacted, she reacted,” said neighbor Miguel Aquino. “But this guy wouldn’t even kill a fly.”
Witnesses told the family that one of the officers, a female, seemed especially upset after the shooting.
“She’s got a family and he has a family, so both sides are going to suffer,” said Aquino. “Just things that happen sometimes that we don’t understand it.”
The officers involved in the incident were taken to Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, where they were being examined, police said. Neither was believed to have been seriously injured.
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