Little Egg Harbor police officers were legally justified in use of deadly force against a knife-wielding township man in late 2015, according to findings by Ocean County investigators that are upheld by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

Police car - emergency concept image

The case of Francis Hartnett's death will not be presented to a grand jury, since no material facts are in question, according to the office of County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato.

The shooting took place in Hartnett's father's apartment in the Royal Timbera complex on Wild Oaks Court, on February 17, 2015.

Police said that Hartnett's wife called local police at about 11:35 AM, relating that he has cut his wrists and walked out, possibly to nearby woods. Three patrol officers and three detectives responded.

Finding no one in the wooded area, and receiving no response at the apartment door, police retrieved a pass key to determine if anyone occupied it, whether Hartnett was inside, and if so, his condition, and whether anyone else risked physical harm.

Officers found Hartnett inside, identified themselves and began verbal commands, authorities said, when a detective heard, in a calm tone, "Get out."

The uniformed officers, at the front door, said that Hartnett entered their line of vision, knife in his right hand, beating his chest with his left, advancing slowly, and loudly ordering them out.

According to the officers, Hartnett ignored orders to drop the knife, raised it, and lunged toward them, at which point they retreated and began firing. The entrance door swung shut as they left the apartment, police said. They found Hartnett's body at the base of the door.

The examination of Hartnett's body revealed 13 bullet wounds and both wrists slit. Investigators later said that Hartnett had previously exhibited suicidal tendencies, and had sent his ex-girlfriend a photo of his cut wrists via text on the day he was shot.

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