A New Jersey teenager who fired blanks to stop an assault by gang members claims he was shot three times by responding undercover officers who shot him in the back.
Victor Rodriguez filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of New Brunswick, its police department, mayor and police chief, the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department and sheriff, two police officers, and a sheriff's deputy.
The Jan. 31 incident began when Rodriguez, then 19, was leaving a restaurant. A group of men approached him, yelled the word "blood" in gang slang, and attempted to rob him. Rodriguez then fired twice in the air with a replica Beretta 9mm that fired blanks, reports the Star-Ledger.
An unmarked law enforcement vehicle was parked near the corner of Seaman Street and Remsen Avenue. In the vehicle were New Brunswick P.D. Officers Christopher Bornheimer and Andrew Weiss, as well as an unidentified deputy from the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department, reports Courthouse News.
Instead of issuing a warning or command, the law enforcement officers opened fire on Rodriguez after he had already run past the car, shooting him in the back of his legs and the rear of his body, according to the lawsuit.
The incident was captured by a nearby video surveillance camera. The footage was then posted to NewBrunswickToday.com by Charlie Kratovil, an independent candidate for the New Brunswick City Council. Kratovil, who describes himself as an advocate for the Rodriguez family, added police radio traffic to the clip.