March 24, 2022
PLAINSBORO, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The Attorney General’s Office today released video footage from four body-worn cameras, two mobile video recorders (MVRs) in law enforcement vehicles, and two Taser cameras related to a fatal police-involved shooting that occurred on Feb. 16, 2022, in Plainsboro, N.J. The decedent has been identified as Atiba Lewis, 45, of Plainsboro. The officer who fired at Mr. Lewis has been identified as Officer Phillip Nguyen of the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.
The fatal shooting remains under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The recordings are being released pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Investigators met today with Mr. Lewis’ family to review the recordings.
According to the preliminary investigation, the shooting occurred shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 16. A civil order for possession (eviction/ejection) had been authorized to remove Mr. Lewis from an apartment on Ravens Crest Drive in Plainsboro. The Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office executed the order with assistance from other law enforcement agencies on the morning of Feb. 16. Later that same morning, law enforcement officers sought and executed a search warrant for an unlawful firearm at Mr. Lewis’ residence.
Law enforcement executed the order and search warrant while Mr. Lewis was out of the apartment.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., after Mr. Lewis had arrived back at the apartment complex, law enforcement officers attempted to arrest him for unlawful possession of the firearm.
When the officers approached Mr. Lewis, he pulled out a knife and ran away from them. He continued to threaten the officers with the knife. Four officers deployed Tasers in an attempt to disarm Mr. Lewis, but the Tasers were ineffective. Mr. Lewis was agitated and lunged at officers several times. At approximately 11:35 a.m., with a knife in his hand, Mr. Lewis advanced directly toward Officer Nguyen, who then fired his weapon, fatally wounding Mr. Lewis.
Officers and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Mr. Lewis, who was transported to Princeton Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased at 12:10 p.m.
The recordings are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner. Under both state law and the Directive, 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.
A copy of the Directive is available at this link:
and a summary of that 10-step process is available at this link:
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