Cop Terminated for Cannabis use is cleared in shooting death of suspect
A state grand jury has declined to charge a Jersey City police officer who has been embroiled in litigation over cannabis use, in the fatal shooting of a suspect last year.
The decision marks the end of an investigation into Police Officer Omar Polanco concerning the May 24, 2022 death of Joseph Robertson, 59, of Jersey City.
Last month, the Civil Service Commission ruled that Polanco was wrongly terminated by the Jersey City Police Department for his use of cannabis off-duty. The commission ordered his reinstatement with back-pay and attorneys fees. That decision followed three others finding that the JCPD policy ran afoul of state law.
The investigation into Robertson’s death, carried out by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, found that Polanco shot Robertson after Robertson, armed with a firearm, put a woman in a headlock and refused to drop his weapon.
Police had 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 and West Side avenues. When officers arrived, they encountered Mr. Robertson and the woman near a BP gas station.
During the altercation, Robertson fired his weapon one time, striking the woman in the chest. In response Officer Polanco fired his weapon twice. Both shots struck Robertson, fatally wounding him. The police recovered Robertson’s firearm at the scene.
Officers and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Robertson, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was also provided with medical attention and sustained a non-fatal injury.
Evidence, which included a video of the incident, was presented to a state grand jury. After hearing the testimony and evidence, the grand jury concluded its deliberations yesterday and voted “no bill,” meaning no criminal charges should be filed against Polanco.