EDISON – Edison police repeatedly asked a township man to drop the ax he was holding as he came toward officers in the parking lot of an apartment complex last month.
“Dude put it down, put it down, put it down. Hey put it down, put it down, put it down Merrill, put it down,” one officer repeatedly said in video captured on his body camera.
The man, Merrill Rambarose, 49, failed to comply with the officers commands and charged toward officers with the weapon in his hand. Two officers fired, fatally wounding Rambarose.
The Edison police officers who fired their service weapons have been identified as Daniel Bradley and Joseph Elqumos.
On Friday the state Attorney General’s Office released video from three body-worn cameras related to the fatal shooting on April 12 at the apartment complex on Judson Street.
The 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 Friday with Rambarose’s family to review the recordings.
A preliminary investigation indicates Edison police officers responded to a 911 call made shortly after 3:45 p.m. April 12 reporting a male threatening an individual with an ax on Judson Street.
One of the videos shows an officer telling another officer that a female was smoking a cigarette in the backyard when a man came out with an ax in his hand. The man said he hates smoke and the smell of smoke and lifted the ax.
The woman said she thought the man was going to hit her, so she put the cigarette out and went back inside, locked the door and called police, the officer explains in the video.
The videos show the man, who has been identified as Rambarose, on a rear second- floor balcony facing the parking lot of the apartment complex where he is repeatedly asked to come down into the parking lot to talk with police.
Rambarose is heard on the videos threatening the officers and calling them names.
“I’m at that point,” Rambarose said in the video.
Officers continue to ask Rambarose to come talk to them before he goes into his apartment.
Shortly afterward he emerged armed with a short-handled ax. Officers ordered him to back up and drop the weapon, but he does not comply and instead charges toward the officers with the ax in his hand, the video shows.
At this time, Elquomos and Bradley both fired their weapons, fatally wounding Rambarose, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
At least four shots are heard in the video.
“Shots fired. Send an ambulance,” an officer calls out.
An ax recovered near Rambarose was kicked away by an officer, the video shows.
Officers and emergency medical personnel rendered first aid to Rambarose, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:41 p.m., according to the Attorney General’s Office.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information was released Friday.
State law requires the Attorney General’s Office investigate any death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.