Fort Lee, New Jersey (FLPD) — On February 4, 2023, at approximately 8:16 a.m., the Fort Lee Police Department responded to John Street in Fort Lee following a 911 call from a family member reporting that 42-year-old Mohamed Bounaouar was inside the home armed with a knife, acting in an aggressive manner, and cutting his own belongings. The family member further informed law enforcement, that, along with Bouanoaur, four other people were inside the dwelling. Fort Lee police officers spoke to the relatives still inside the home and asked them to isolate themselves in a room away from Bounaouar. Officers entered the townhouse and attempted to speak to Bounaouar from the bottom of a staircase. Later, relatives exited the house. With the assistance of law enforcement, all except one of the family members that lived in the home were able to leave.
The family informed the officers that there was a family member on the third floor who was unable to exit, as Bounaouar was occupying the second floor. Throughout the morning, additional resources from the Fort Lee Police Department responded to the scene including crisis negotiators, the Emergency Response Team (ERT), along with the Fort Lee Fire Department. Police continued attempting to negotiate with Bounaouar as items were being thrown down the stairs in the vicinity of officers and various items were being broken in the townhouse by Bounaouar. In an effort to get the remaining family member out of the third floor, additional officers were positioned on a neighboring balcony, adjacent to the balcony of the townhouse that Bounaouar was occupying. At approximately 10:20 a.m., the Fort Lee Fire Department and law enforcement, using a bucket truck, attempted to remove the remaining family member from the townhouse’s third-floor window. During this effort, Bounaouar exited the residence onto his second-floor rear balcony.
There, he moved in the direction of the officers who were on the neighboring balcony. Officer Emmanuel Espinal deployed a taser and Detectives John Gallo and Stephen Domenick discharged their firearms, striking Bounaouar. Officer Espinal then deployed his taser a second time. After hearing the gunfire, the officers who had been posted at the bottom of the stairs, within the residence, ascended the staircase to the second floor. They found Bounaouar wounded and lying on the floor of the balcony. They ordered him to drop the knife, but he rose to his feet and began moving towards them while still holding the knife. At that point, Officers Matthew Lyle and Gabriel Avella discharged their firearms, striking Bounaouar. Officers then removed two knives located near Bounaouar. Emergency medical personnel rendered first aid at the scene. Bounaouar was pronounced deceased at approximately 10:39 a.m. One officer sustained an injury to his hand.
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