Family of New Jersey man killed by police outside Dorney Park desperate for answers

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- The family of a man from New Jersey who was killed by police outside a Pennsylvania amusement park over the weekend is speaking out, begging to know why he had to be fatally shot.

Witnesses say minutes before officers drew their weapons, 44-year-old Joseph Santos darted into traffic and jumped onto cars across the street from Dorney Park in South Whitehall Township.

Santos lived in Hasbrouck Heights, while his 22-year-old son Kenneth Rodriguez lives with his mother in Paterson.

"Why did they shoot him?" Rodriguez said. "The last thing I told him was to be safe out there."

Rodriguez saw his father just last week and remembers what he told him just before Santos and his current girlfriend headed out to Dorney Park.

But according to police, Santos was acting erratically by breaking car windows and causing damage. At one point, he was told to get down on the ground but never followed that command. Authorities say it does not appear he had a weapon.

"He can't talk to his dad, he can't text his dad," mom Ruth Santos said. "He was suppose to be with him yesterday."

Rodriguez and Ruth Santos refuse to look at the video.

"I can't see the video," she said. "I don't want him to see the video cause he's hurting right now."

Ruth Santos said she has known Joseph since the mid 90s and knows he had problems in the past. But she feels he didn't deserve to die in a hail of police gunfire.

"I don't think anyone should die like that," she said. "He left behind three beautiful kids, they don't have a dad no more. Something has to be done."

Police are trying to determine whether the shooting was justified. Pennsylvania State Police are leading the investigation, at the request of the Lehigh County District Attorney.

The officer involved in the shooting has not been identified.

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