Video of man’s fatal encounter with Bridgeton police: a legal perspective

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

New ‘Hands Up’ Shooting Is Anything But Black and White.

A victim with a history of shooting at cops. Bridgeton, New Jersey: A police video of officers confronting and then fatally shooting a black man in southern New Jersey has raised questions and stirred anger over another death at the hands of police.New Jersey police officers shot and killed the passenger of a car within two minutes of making a traffic stop, and say the man was reaching for a gun in the car’s glove compartment.

Video of the Dec. 30 shooting death of Jerame Reid by Bridgeton police has not quelled debate in the community about the incident’s justification, but some in the legal field have weighed in on what investigators will seek. The nearly two-minute deadly standoff came after the killings of black men in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, triggered months of turbulent protests, violence and calls for a re-examination of police use of force. In the video and audio released by the Bridgeton Police Department, Reid is seen appearing to push his way out of the car with his hands apparently in front of him after Days ordered him not to move.

He said in a statement the footage “raises serious questions as to the legality and reasonableness of the officers’ actions that night” because Reid was shot as he raised his hands. The five-minute video shows Bridgeton officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley pull over the black Jaguar near the intersection of South Avenue and Henry Street in Bridgeton. Lore, a professor at Rutgers School of Law and Vineland resident, watched the video of Reid’s shooting and said he saw what could be perceived as “progressive steps that could put the officer in danger.” “I think there were obvious reasons why the officer felt he needed to defend himself,” he said. “It’s a normal thought process. Screaming over and over “Don’t you [expletive] move!” and “Show me your hands!” at the man in the passenger seat, the officer reached into the car and appeared to remove a silver handgun.

You have to look at it as a dynamic situation,” Eastlack said. “You have to look at the police officer’s reaction through that prism, not through looking back.” The new video, which only gives a partial view of the shooting, is unlikely to quell the outrage—especially because it doesn’t address protestors complaints over conflicts of interest in the prosecutor’s office charged with the investigation.

Both officers have been placed on leave while prosecutors investigate. “The video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person,” Walter Hudson, chairman and founder of the civil rights group the National Awareness Alliance, said Wednesday. “He complied with the officer and the officer shot him.” Reid, 36, spent about 13 years in prison for shooting at three state troopers when he was a teenager. And Days knew who he was” Days was among the arresting officers last year when Reid was charged with several crimes, including drug possession and obstruction. Someone in the car replies, “I got no reason to reach for nothing.” A moment later, Days says again, “Hey Jerome, you reach for something you’re going to be fucking dead.” (It’s not clear if Days recognized Reid and mispronounced his first name calling him Jerome instead of Jerame. In Bridgeton, where two-thirds of the residents are black or Hispanic, the killing has stirred small protests over the past couple of weeks, including a demonstration on Wednesday, a day after the video was made public at the request of two newspapers under the state’s open records law.

But Lawanda Reid’s lawyer and activists are demanding the state attorney general’s office take over the investigation, something it said it will not do. The video, which shows not only the shooting but also the background leading up to it, still leaves unresolved questions that will be critical in a criminal investigation. As Reid drops to the ground, Days continues to yell “Don’t you fucking move!” Tutt’s hands can be seen outside his driver’s side window, as he continues to try to hold them up. The original lead prosecutor in the case, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae, recused herself from the inquiry because of her personal ties to officer Days. In October Hudson was indicted for allegedly assaulting a police officer after an altercation at a youth basketball game in Penns Grove-Carneys Point New Jersey, where serves on the school board.

The South Jersey Times reported this week that residents had filed seven municipal court complaints against Days since 2013 and two against Worley in that span for alleged abuses of power” all the complaints were dismissed. Why did he approach the passenger’s side of the car? “There is a racial tone when it comes to policing in the black community, and in this particular case I will say it’s not about black and white,” Hudson said. “It’s about doing what’s right.” Hudson said he met the acting New Jersey attorney general, John Jay Hoffman, in Trenton on Wednesday, and he expected the attorney general to take up the case.

The city of Bridgeton refused to send the Guardian any press releases issued on the shooting, instead requesting a formal open records request and seven days to fulfill it. He was also charged with narcotics possession, failure to appear and resisting arrest in Millville municipal court last summer, according to the same report.

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