Family speaks out after Black veteran killed by N.J. police

A rally in support of Gulia Dale III's family was held Saturday in Newton, organized by the Newark, New Jersey NAACP chapter.

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The family of a retired military officer is speaking out after he was shot dead by police responding to a call for help as he was experiencing a mental breakdown.

Gulia Dale III, 61, left his home on July 4, and his wife, Karen, called 911 for assistance. His family believes he was having a mental episode triggered by fireworks in the city of Newton, near Sussex, New Jersey, on the holiday.

Newton Police responded to Karen’s call at around 9:30 p.m. and found Dale sitting in his pickup truck. He complied with their orders and exited the vehicle, according to a report from CNN, which describes what is on officers’ body camera footage.

Dale then opened the rear passenger door, before returning again to the driver’s seat. He exited the vehicle again, this time with an object in his hand.

The family of retired U.S. Army major and National Guard veteran Gulia Dale III (above) is speaking out after he was shot dead by police responding to a call for help while he was experiencing a mental breakdown.

At that time, officers Steven Kneidl and Garrett Armstrong opened fire. Dale was pronounced dead at the scene. A gun was found near his body.

An attorney for Officer Kneidl said that the officer’s actions were “legally appropriate and justified.” However, Dale’s family believes the police response may have been different if he were white.

“It’s just unfair that Black people get dealt differently than our white counterparts when a situation happens with police. And it’s not fair,” his sister, Valerie Cobbertt, told CNN on Wednesday.

“We’re torn apart. We’re broken. Our heart is like in pieces,” Cobbertt said. “He should still be here with us. This didn’t have to happen.”

A retired U.S. Army major and National Guard veteran, Dale, when working as a specialist for the Pentagon, returned home to New Jersey from D.C. on weekends. Highly decorated, he served in Iraq immediately after Sept. 11.

“He was struggling with mental imbalance and was struggling with PTSD that night,” his sister contended. “He wasn’t himself, so that’s why she called for help like any person would do.”

CNN’s report notes the 911 call makes no mention of Dale being a military vet.

“Any normal family member would call for some help for their family member,” said Cobbertt. “And they’re expecting to get help with a crisis team, but that’s not what my brother got that night. He got police officers, untrained, and guns flaring out of their holsters.”

A rally in support of Dale’s family was held Saturday in Newton, organized by the Newark chapter of the NAACP. There, a mix of activists, kin and friends of Dale wore “Veterans Lives Matter” T-shirts, remembered him fondly and said they wanted to see more body camera footage of his killing.

A spokesperson from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office said a probe is ongoing, adding in a statement, “We strongly believe that the best way to honor the deceased individual — and to provide closure to the families — is to conduct a comprehensive investigation and assist the grand jury in determining whether any law enforcement officers should be charged in the incident.”

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