Authorities release bodycam footage from Art All Night shooting in Trenton
“He’s shot in the head,” a Trenton cop shouted on disturbing body-camera footage of the June 17 shootout at the Art All Night festival. “Come on. Let’s go. Open the door.”
Officers frantically grabbed the arms and legs of one of the three suspected gunmen, Amir Armstrong, as he lay on the ground of the Roebling Wire Works warehouse where a firefight erupted around 2:45 a.m. Father’s Day, and rushed him to a waiting cruiser parked outside.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office released several police body-camera videos and 911 calls Wednesday, in response to public records request from the news media, providing the most in-depth view yet of the chaotic aftermath of Trenton’s mass shooting. Some of the footage was redacted to protect victims’ privacy.
Armstrong was shot in the head during a firefight between feuding neighborhood factions that erupted as police attempted to shut down the event where about 1,000 people were still gathered. A woman with a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America red T-shirt assisted cops as they huddled around Armstrong, who was wearing red shoes and looked unresponsive.
Joe Kuzemka, the director of Art All Night, walked over and watched as the wounded Armstrong lay almost motionless.
Kuzemka, wearing an Art All Night orange T-shirt, black baseball cap and cargo shorts, appeared shell-shocked.
Officers loaded Armstrong into the back of a cruiser and sped away as a cop who accompanied him on the ride over tried to keep him talking.
“What’s your name?” asked the officer, whose identify was unclear.
“Amir,” he said, in a muffled voice.
“Amir, stay with me,” the cop said.
“My arms are numb,” Armstrong tells the cop. He then asks him to answer his phone.
“We gotta get you to the hospital,” the cop says. “You gonna be OK. We almost there. Stay still.”
Armstrong was one of two men charged in connection with the shootout that injured at least 22 people, including 17 wounded by gunshots.
Police recovered a silver revolver tucked on the right side of Armstrong’s waistband, according to an affidavit of probable cause. He was charged with being in possession of a black-handle silver Taurus revolver without having a legal permit to carry the weapon.
Another suspect, 26-year-old Davone “Dada” White who witnesses say was shot from behind by cops, was shown on videos sprawled out in the middle of the intersection near Dye and Genesee streets, suffering from several gunshot wounds. He was charged with unlawfully possessing a black handgun as a convicted felon and possessing a large-capacity magazine in violation of state law prohibiting such devices.
Tahaij Wells, the third alleged gunman, appeared on the videos on his stomach, handcuffed, in a black shirt and white pants, outside of the warehouse doors. A pool of blood stained the ground next to him.
“Big guy. Stay with us,” one of the cops told Wells. “Stay awake. You hear us?”
“The one over by the wall is the worst,” another cop shouted as officials triaged the massive scene. Officers with guns drawn and a canine surrounded the area where Wells was down, diverting people away as more cop cars and ambulances screamed to the warehouse with their sirens wailing.
Officers found guns near Wells, who was killed by police during the melee.
Trenton Detectives Eliezer Ramos, Matthew Bledsoe, Michael Cipriano and Officer Robert Furman remain on administrative leave while the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office investigates their use of deadly force.
Another clip showed Furman being escorted by a sergeant in a police cruiser to the hospital where a nurse asked him if he had been shot and took his information as he sat in a chair.
On the trip over, Furman, 24, who has been on the force a little more than a year, lamented that there wasn’t metal detectors at the event as they described how their hearts raced and their blood pressure was “through the roof” as the chaos unfolded.
Radio chatter cut through the conversation, alerting officers to the carnage.
“As per the doctor, we have 14 victims,” the radio dispatcher said. One woman was hit by a car as hundreds stampeded out the doors to try to get to safety.
“God damn,” the cop said.
In another clip, a cop remarked he could still “smell the f–in’ iron” of victims’ blood he got on his arm as he washed himself off as firefighters stood by.
Cops still hadn’t secured the scene at that point. And someone walked over with a warning.
“Guys, there’s someone with a gun around here, so be mindful.”
Cops struggled to control the rowdy crowd as they swept through the warehouse complex with flashlights searching for shell casings and other evidence.
Officers stumbled upon someone inside a tent in the middle of the complex, telling the man he needed to put clothes on and get out of the roped-off crime scene.
“That was a shooting?” the oblivious man said from inside the tent. “I thought it was fireworks.”
One of the body camera videos showed a Trenton cop casually strolling through asking people in the crowd to leave just minutes before the shots broke out.
“It’s a wrap,” the cop told festival-goers. “10 a.m. It starts up again.”
“It’s Art All Night,” one woman joked with the officer.
“It’s too out of control,” he responded, as he continued through the crowd urging people to go home. “We don’t have enough cops.”
As a woman sipped out of a water bottle, the shots started popping.
“Sh*t, get out of here,” the cop shouted as he ran toward the crackle of the gunfire. “They’re shootin’ over there. Go.”
People scrambled past as the cop waded through the sea of people with his gun drawn.
“My boy got hit,” one man screamed as he ran next to a friend who appeared to be shot in the shoulder.
“Get him on the ground. Put pressure on his shoulder,” the cop said. “Who did it? What they look like?”
“They in there,” the man responded.
As cops struggled to rope off the crime scene and control the unruly crowd near Dye and Genesee streets, an unidentified officer threatened to mace the crowd.
“If people don’t start leaving, I’m just gonna start macing the crowd. Go away. You gotta go away.”
A woman bear-hugged a man keeping him from walking toward the cop.
“If you touch me, I’ll f—k you up,” the man shouted at the cop.
“I don’t got time for this sh-t” the cop responded. “The hospitals are overflowing. We got eight people shot.”
Another man ran toward White, who was sprawled out in the middle of the road, and was immediately wrapped up and escorted away by cops.
“That’s my brother,” he screamed.
Amid the chaos, Trenton Police dispatchers contacted various law-enforcement agencies seeking assistance.
“We’ve got a complete mess here, 635 South Clinton Ave.,” a city dispatcher told New Jersey State Police in an emergency call. “We’ve got at least five; you already called State Police? All right, they are saying they already called you guys. We’re trying to see if we can get somebody over there to assist us, 635 South Clinton Ave. OK, thank you, ma’am. Bye, bye.”
In one video clip, an officer found a gun inside a garbage can outside the warehouse.
“Leave it right there,” an officer said to the cop who found the gun. “Don’t touch it.”
Police traversed the grounds of the Roebling Market dispersing hundreds of people as they ordered event staff to go inside the warehouse and told everyone else to leave the premises.
“Ladies, hurry up. Walk faster, y’all,” a cop says in dispersing people away from the crime scene. “Let’s go.”
“Help me. I’m shot, Bro,” a man said to an officer, hobbling as he tried to nurse a gunshot wound to the leg.
Trentonian staff writers Isaac Avilucea and Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman contributed to this report.