Newark—The ACLU-NJ calls on the State Office of Attorney General to conduct a thorough investigation of the tragic July 16, 2010 shooting death of a citizen by an Essex County Sheriff's officer, and has filed a public information request with the Essex County Sheriff's Office to shed greater light on the incident.
"Considering the seriousness of the incident, and many unanswered questions, this investigation demands the legitimacy that only an external review can provide," said Deborah Jacobs, executive director for the ACLU-NJ. "The public's confidence in this investigation depends on whether the professionals undertaking it operate independently, outside of the county structure."
The questionable circumstances surrounding the shooting in Branch Brook Park of DeFarra "Dean" Gaymon, which allegedly followed a confrontation with the officer who shot him, demand an in-depth, independent review from the Attorney General's Shooting Response Team.
Many questions still remain. Inconsistent reports in media have painted an unclear picture of what actually happened at the scene. Additionally, the ACLU-NJ has not learned whether Essex County immediately reported the shooting to the Attorney General's office, as required by policy, nor how soon after the incident the officer was questioned or discussed the incident with his supervisors.
Normally the State Division of Criminal Justice, the office under the attorney general's supervision that law enforcement must notify when force used by an officer involves death or injury, assigns the County Prosecutor's Office to carry out investigations. However, the ACLU-NJ believes the Division of Criminal Justice should cede the investigation instead to the experts at the Shooting Response Team, who can add greater accountability to the inquiry.
The ACLU-NJ's request filed today with the Essex County Sheriff's Office asks for radio transmissions, use-of-force reports, arrest reports and other data that could shed light on the shooting. Today's actions are part of a larger ACLU-NJ effort both statewide and in Essex County advocating for best practices in policing.
- OPRA to Essex County Sheriff (143k PDF)