A grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against a New Jersey police officer who fatally shot and killed a knife-wielding man during a standoff on the Jersey Shore in 2020.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday night that the actions of the Asbury Park Police Sgt. Sean DeShader was justified in the circumstances, noting that Hasani Best held a knife throughout the 45-minute encounter with police and was not deterred from being electrocuted with a stun gun.
A spokesperson for Best’s family denounced the decision on Wednesday.
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“Attempts to demonize Hasani Best, who was needlessly murdered, and to vindicate Officer Sean DeShader, who murdered this black man immediately after the national reckoning of civil rights in the post-George Floyd world, tell us that nothing has changed,” said Randy Thompson, CEO. of the advocacy group Help Not Handcuffs.
“There is still no transparency when police, prosecutors and judges abuse their duties and there is no protection for civilians in critical processes such as abuses in proceedings before a grand jury,” he said.
On August 21, 2020, a neighbor called 911 to report an ongoing dispute. Police arrived and spoke with a witness who said she was assaulted by Best, who was inside the house with a knife, according to an account of the incident from the attorney general’s office.
The police repeatedly told Best to drop the knife and get out of the house. A Special Response Unit was called, and as officers waited for his arrival, Best “opened the door and, among other things, made a sudden movement as if he was coming towards the officers,” the statement said.
Shortly after, while gesturing with the knife, Best said, “I’m going to stab him.”
At that time, DeShader shot Best twice, fatally wounding him.
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At a September 2020 press conference in front of police headquarters, Carol Sanders, Best’s mother, said he didn’t deserve to be killed.
“He was talking to them and explaining his hurt, his feelings,” she said. “They didn’t have to take his life.”
According to the attorney general’s office, the shooting was within guidelines under which officers can use their weapons.
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“An officer may use deadly force in New Jersey when he reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm,” the office said. .
Best’s family files a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer, the city, and others regarding the shooting.