After calling 911 to report armed trespassers attempting to break into his shed and truck, a New Jersey man was fatally shot by police officers immediately after they arrived at the scene. Although an officer can be heard on police body cam footage accusing the man of aiming a gun at them, the video does not corroborate the officer’s version of events.
At approximately 1:35 a.m. on September 14, Charles Sharp III called 911 and told the dispatcher that two men and a woman attempted to break into his tool shed and his truck. According to the 911 call, Sharp admitted that he threw a firecracker at the armed intruders in order to scare them away.
As Sharp remained on the line, voices could be heard in the background ordering him to put the gun down when the dispatcher asked Sharp, “Are you talking to my officers?”
Before Sharp could respond, multiple gunshots were heard on the other end of the line.
In the police body cam video, Sharp stood on his front lawn with his phone in one hand and his grandfather’s replica .45-caliber handgun in the other hand. Immediately upon arriving at the scene, the Mantua police officer driving the patrol car exited the vehicle and fired at least 12 shots at Sharp.
“Watch! He’s got a gun on him,” the officer who fired warned his colleague after the shooting.
“Is it the homeowner?” another cop asked.
“I don’t know,” the officer responded. “The guy came out and pointed a gun. When he pointed the gun, I thought he was gonna fucking shoot me, dude.”
But according to the officer’s body cam video, Sharp never appeared to aim the replica gun at him. In the video, Sharp remained standing on his front lawn with his arms at his sides when the officer killed him.
Transported to a local hospital, Sharp was pronounced dead at 2:49 a.m.
Shortly before he stopped talking to the dispatcher, Sharp said, “My grandfather willed me a .45.” He added, “I don’t know what I’m allowed to do about that.”
On Wednesday, New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck issued a press release announcing that the shooting is under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability while releasing the 911 call and the body cam footage to the public. Bruck explained that “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.”
The Mantua Township Police Department has refused to disclose the names of the officers involved in the fatal shooting.