AFRICANGLOBE – National police reform advocates have called for a state investigation into the fatal police shooting of Jerame Reid, a 36 year-old Black man who was confronted by two officers during an initially routine traffic stop.
“Local officials should not handle incidents such as this,” the Rev Al Sharpton said in a statement on Thursday, echoing similar calls from local leaders to give the investigation to the state attorney general.
On Wednesday, the South Jersey Times obtained and published footage from the dashboard camera of a Bridgeton, New Jersey, police patrol car. Protesters took to the streets on Wednesday night.
The video shows officers approaching a black Jaguar around 9:20pm. Police pulled over the driver for rolling through a stop sign, and approached the car from the passenger’s side while asking for the driver’s license.
Less than two minutes later, the video shows officers shooting and killing Reid, after Bridgeton officer Braheme Days says he sees a handgun in the glove compartment.
“I’m gonna shoot you!” and “You’re gonna be f*cking dead!” Days is shown saying repeatedly, as Reid tells the officer he is not “reaching” for the gun. Days shoots Reid as he exits the car. Reid appears to have his hands up. Days uses Reid’s name during the incident, despite not obtaining any identifying information from the passenger. Local reports state that Days had arrested Reid in the summer of 2014.
“It’s been very, very tense since the video,” said Walter Hudson Sr, the leader of the National Awareness Alliance, a group organizing the community of Bridgeton following the incident. “The video itself is alarming.”
Little information has been released by the city or prosecutor’s office, even as the town has come under increasing scrutiny following the video’s release.
“Because a grand jury presentation must be considered, the [Cumberland County] prosecutor’s office must be circumscribed in its release of information,” said first assistant prosecutor Harold B Shapiro, who is investigating the case. Shapiro took over after the county prosecutor, Jennifer Webb-McRae, recused herself because, she said, she knew Days from “the community”.
According to New Jersey law, a grand jury must be held unless the “undisputed facts” show the use of force was justified. Shapiro has not responded to a call for comment, and secretaries have directed calls to the city. A call to the Bridgeton mayor’s office was not returned, and the city administrator asked all requests for information be made through state open records laws.
Activists have questioned the impartiality of the investigation into Reid’s case. To this point, the prosecutor’s office has led the investigation, but has released all public information through the city of Bridgeton.
Hudson said the shooting has frightened members of the Bridgeton community, a small, working class, majority Black and latino city of about 25,000.
“They’re scared, they’re scared,” said Hudson, who is based in Penns Grove, New Jersey. “For one, they want change. But on the other side they’ve been so degraded or harassed, they feel if they step up, they feel there will be retaliation when this dies down.”
The city of Bridgeton sits at the state’s southern tip, about an hour’s drive south from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Only about 61% of the people who live in the city have graduated high school, about 27% below New Jersey’s average, and residents earn about $13,000 each on average, $22,700 less than the average New Jersey resident.
Video that appears to be further footage of the shooting’s aftermath emerged online on Thursday. The video, uploaded to YouTube on the date of the incident, seems to show paramedics briefly attempting to resuscitate Reid as another man is led away from scene in handcuffs.
“Now they’re trying to bring that man back to life – he got shot for no f*cking reason,” one onlooker can be heard saying.
The body is then placed on a stretcher and taken into an ambulance.
The case simmered for three weeks until the release of the dashboard camera video, which happened only after a formal request by the South Jersey Times.
New Jersey’s southern region medical examiner is conducting an autopsy of Reid’s body, but it appears unlikely that the medical examiner’s office will release the report before a grand jury is convened.
By: Jessica Glenza And Oliver Laughland