Official police accounts of the circumstances that resulted in the shooting death of Lonnie Newton Wednesday night mean Trenton police were certainly justified in using deadly force in response to the imminent threat Mr. Newton posed to him and his fellow officers on Stuyvesant Avenue.
Mr. Newton, who reportedly discarded a now missing handgun during a footchase, repeatedly threatened Trenton police officers with a large kitchen knife and slashed another officer on the leg.
Later he advanced on Officer Yem Delgado, still brandishing the knife, immediately prior to Officer Delgado’s decision to open fire on the Trenton resident. Officer Delgado’s aim was true – all three rounds he squeezed off struck the suspect, killing Mr. Newton, according to The Times of Trenton.
I actually had the good fortune of meeting Officer Delgado one night while walking through the Mill Hill section of the city, where he was posted following an incident in which several city kids spray-painted gang-related graffiti throughout the neighborhood.
Officer Delgado, who said he was slightly tired after working several double shifts in a row, seemed like a well-meaning, competent officer, so it is unfortunate to think that he was forced into taking the life of another this week.
Then again, it is good to know that Trenton has a group of police officers who are always vigilant and always cognizant of the rules governing their profession, such as when it acceptable to use deadly force.
For the rest of us, this incident is a reminder that it is never acceptable to threaten anyone with physical violence, and especially not an armed police officer.