Saturday, January 16, 2021

Outrage over police shooting of unarmed Jamaican in New Jersey

(Jamaica Gleaner) Jamaican community leaders in the Northeast Diaspora area are demanding answers from the New Jersey District Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey State Police about the circumstances surrounding the killing of Maurice Gordon by a New Jersey state trooper.
Outrage over the slaying has been resurrected amid protests that have swept across the United States and swelled into a global movement against police brutality against black people.
Gordon, a Jamaican who was unarmed, was pulled over by a state trooper on May 23 along the Garden State Parkway in Bass River for allegedly speeding.
What transpired after the traffic stop remains unclear.
What is known is that Gordon’s mother, Racquel Barrett, who flew to New York from Great Britain on news of her son’s killing, was allowed to view the dash-cam video yesterday. Gordon’s father, who lives in Florida, was also present.
But the attorney representing the family, William O. Wagstaff, who was allowed to see a part of the dash-cam video, said Gordon was pulled over by the Caucasian cop.
He said that Gordon was asked to pull his car into another spot but the car would not restart. According to the attorney, Gordon was instructed to sit in the back of the Trooper cruiser. After about 30 minutes, Gordon twice attempted to unbuckle the seat belt and step out of the car.
The third time that he attempted to get out of the car, he was shot during a reported tussle with the cop.
Wagstaff said that Gordon, a chemistry student at Duchess Community College Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, and a driver for Uber Eats, was not handcuffed or ticketed.
The family’s attorney maintains that the 28-year-old was handcuffed after being shot.
Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal said that his team has completed its initial investigation into the killing.
It is unclear whether the trooper has been suspended or placed on modified duties.
Jamaica’s consul general to New York, Alsion Wilson, who has been in constant contact with the family, is known to have drafted a letter to the attorney general handling the case, but the contents have not yet been released.
What is also known is that a private investigator has been retained to look into the matter.
The Jamaica Diaspora Northeast, USA, and the Jamaica Organization of New Jersey, in a joint statement, said that they are tormented and heartbroken by Gordon’s killing.
“As a community, we stand with the family during this tragic time. It is disturbing that once again, another black man was killed during an interaction with law enforcement,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, a relative of Gordon’s who lives in Jamaica told The Gleaner that they want justice and his body to be flown home for burial.
The relative, who requested anonymity, said, “What we want really and truly is justice. I think what will happen as well, if he is buried in America, it’s going to cause pain for many of us because he wasn’t born in America. He wasn’t raised in America. He was born in Jamaica, with many of us.”
The family said they have been getting tremendous support from Jonathan Grant High School alumni.
“They feel the same way. Friends have been calling us. His friends want justice and we all want justice for him,” the family member told The Gleaner.
The relative added: “We are hurt, we are shocked, we are surprised. Still don’t have any closure. We still don’t know why would you shoot somebody and then handcuff them? Why not get an ambulance?”
They want a funeral here on local soil and have created a GoFundMe account to enlist public support.
The relative described Gordon as fun-loving, jovial, and “a nerd in a sense”.
“He loved science. … He was an academic. I am one of his favourite, too. … That’s why I am so hurt,” she said.
A petition has been started for Gordon, who would have celebrated his 29 birthday on June 25.

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