A video released by New Jersey’s attorney general’s office Tuesday shows a police officer abruptly shooting a Black man in the doorway of an Asbury Park home after trying to convince him over the course of a long standoff to drop a knife.
The attorney general is investigating the Aug. 21 shooting, which killed 39-year-old Hasani Best. The video raises questions as to whether Best posed an immediate danger to officers when he was shot.
Officers had responded to a domestic disturbance between Best and a woman. When they arrived, Best was inside of a second-floor apartment and the woman was standing outside.
Police spent nearly an hour trying to coax Best, with whom they were familiar from other encounters, out of a room in the apartment. At one point they used a Taser on him but were unable to subdue him and he went back inside.
“We’ve dealt with you too many times, just drop the knife,” an officer said at one point during the standoff. "Drop the knife, come out and we settle this.”
Best steadfastly refused to come out or give up the knife. He alternated between cursing at the officers and chatting amiably with them, telling them, “I don’t want to hurt you,” and, “We need police, I know that’s a hard job you’ve got. Please don’t take what I’m saying as disrespectful.”
The officers occasionally laughed, too, though they carried large shields in front of them and had their guns drawn and aimed at the doorway.
Finally, Best opened the door a few inches still holding the knife.
At one point, Best made a jerking movement toward the officers, who were standing about 6 or 7 feet away.
He had appeared to relax again after an officer implored him, “Don't do that.” Then, Best raised the knife to his chest and said, “I’m going to stab him” while looking at the officers.
One of the officers, Asbury Park Police Sgt. Sean DeShader, then suddenly fired, knocking Best back into the apartment, and the officers rushed in to carry Best out. He died about 20 minutes later at a hospital.
The attorney general's office said in a news release that investigators had met with members of Best's family Tuesday to review the video recordings. It said that when the investigation is complete, the findings will be presented to a grand jury for a determination about whether to bring any criminal charges.