Body camera images released by the state attorney general’s office show a chaotic confrontation before police officers in Bayonne shot and killed a man inside his home last month.
Three videos, about four to seven minutes each, show police officers responding to a call from a Bayonne resident about his 47-year-old son Lee Waskiewicz during a meeting on June 7 that ended by the death of Waskiewicz.
In the audio of the 6:30 am 9-1-1 call broadcast with the videos, Waskiewicz’s mother, who has not been identified, tells the dispatcher that her son is “disturbed” and has “gone mad. “.
“He’s destroying my kitchen,” the woman said. “He’s got rage right now.”
When asked if Waskiewicz had weapons, his mother replied, “No, not now.”
(Warning: the video and the language it contains may disturb some viewers.)
About 10 minutes later, three police officers, including two identified by the attorney general’s office as Edward Taveras and Timothy Ballance, responded to the call. The videos show Ballance and Waskiewicz’s mother speaking outside the home about her son’s medical “treatment”. Much of the conversation is redacted or unclear, but the woman mentions that Waskiewicz had “gone mad” and “brought down the ceiling”.
At one point, Ballance asks if “in-person” treatment is better for Waskiewicz.
“Yes, but the doctor doesn’t do it in person anymore,” the woman replies.
Police follow Waskiewicz’s mother around the house to a cluttered kitchen, where large holes are visible in the ceiling. Waskiewicz, wearing only his underwear, appears briefly at the bottom of a staircase before running back up, away from the cops.
“Hey Lee, how are you, man?” Taveras calls.
Waskiewicz appears disturbed and screams, often unintelligibly, while rock music plays in the background. Ballance and Taveras are standing at the bottom of the stairs with Waskiewicz at the top. When Waskiewicz mentions a knife, the two officers draw their weapons.
“Shoot me,” Waskiewicz said at one point, to which Taveras replied, “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to shoot you.
Taveras repeatedly tells Waskiewicz to drop the knife. Waskiewicz refuses and yells at the officers to get out of his house. He repeatedly threatens them with the knife, saying at one point, “Come here and I’ll stab you with this.”
Body camera footage shows Waskiewicz’s feet as he begins to descend the stairs towards the officers. Less than a second later, what appears to be seven gunshots are heard. The officers retreat as Waskiewicz falls into the stairwell.
In a press release Tuesday, the attorney general’s office did not identify how many shots were fired, and by whom, only stating that the two officers “fired their service weapons, fatally injuring” Waskiewicz.
After the shots, Taveras yells “where’s the knife?” And appears to cover the blade with his foot as he and Ballance administer first aid. The two then appear to be looking for him, apparently intending to take him outside in an ambulance.
“Wait Lee, don’t give up,” Taveras said.
Waskiewicz was declared dead at the Bayonne medical center at 7:43 a.m., according to the attorney general.
A Bayonne spokesperson could not be reached immediately for comment.
In its press release, the attorney general’s office said the incident was still under investigation. A grand jury will decide whether or not to lay criminal charges when the investigation is complete.