BRIDGETON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Controversy has erupted over a police shooting that left an unarmed man dead in a town in southern New Jersey.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, dashcam video shows the traffic stop and all the events that led to the shooting. But important questions have been raised into exactly what happened.
The incident happened on Dec. 30, but police had just released the officer’s dashcam video as of Wednesday. The entire encounter appears, but the video and audio are far from clear.
Police in Bridgeton, New Jersey said it all began when officers noticed a Jaguar run a stop sign. Bridgeton officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley pulled the car over.
“Hey, officer Days, Bridgeton police,” Days first says to the driver. “The reason I’m pulling you over – you went right through that stop sign back there.”
“Where at?” the driver asks.
“Right on South Pine Street,” Days responds.
The driver seemed cooperative, but things took a quick turn for the worse when Days began talking to the car’s passenger – Jerame Reid, 36.
CBS Philadelphia reported Reid previously spent nearly 13 years in state prison for shooting at three New Jersey State Police troopers when he was a teenager, and was known by Officer Days from a drug possession and obstruction arrest over the summer.
Warning: Graphic Language
Days repeatedly told the car’s passenger to show him his hands and don’t move.
“Show me your hands. Show me your f***ing hands! Show me your hands! Don’t f***ing move! Don’t you f***ing move! Don’t f***ing move. Don’t you f***ing move,” Days says in the video. Get ‘em out the car, Rog. We got a gun in his glove compartment. Don’t you f***ing move.”
The driver, Leroy Tutt, is seen showing his hands atop the open window on his side of the car. It’s not clear what Reid is doing, though Days repeatedly warns him not to move during the standoff of less than two minutes.
The confrontation grew worse, Brennan reported.
“Dude, you’re going to be f***ing dead. I’m telling you! You reach for something, you’re going to be f***ing dead. I’m telling you! I’m telling you! Keep your f***ing hands right there,” Days continued. “Hey Jerome (sic), you reach for something, you’re going to be f***ing dead!”
“I ain’t got no reason to reach for nothing, bro. I ain’t got no reason to reach for nothing,” Reid says as Days continues to yell to his partner that Reid is reaching for something.
Someone then says, “I’m getting out and getting on the ground,” but Days yells at Reid not to move.
The officer appeared to pull what appeared to be a gun from the vehicle, while Reid was seen pushing the car’s door open just seconds later, CBS Philadelphia reported.
“No you’re not. No you’re not,” Days says. Don’t f***ing move! Don’t you f***ing move!”
Reid’s hands are at about shoulder height and appear to be empty. As he steps out, both officers fire at least six shots.
After the shooting, there are shouts from people in the area, and other police and emergency vehicles arrive.
Walter Hudson of the National Awareness Alliance said he has met with the New Jersey state Attorney General’s office and wants the state to take over the case.
“I question the stop,” Hudson said. “I question everything that happened.”
Reid’s prior record should not be relevant, Hudson said.
“What he did when he was 15 years old is not the buffer to why he’s dead now,” he said.
Conrad J. Benedetto, an attorney representing the Reid family, also released a statement questioning the incident.
“While our investigation is still ongoing, the City of Bridgeton’s release of the police cruiser’s video footage showing the shooting of Mr. Reid raises serious questions as to the legality and/or reasonableness of the officers’ actions that night,” Benedetto said in the statement. “We have viewed the footage which speaks for itself. The footage shows the officers shooting Mr. Reid after he exited the vehicle with his hands raised in front of him. We are in the process of obtaining copies of the footage so that it can be analyzed in greater detail.”
Benedetto also called for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office to take over investigating the case.
But one expert on the police use of force, Maria Haberfeld of John Jay College, said Reid did not follow orders.
“Instead of sitting calmly as the police officer is telling him, ‘Don’t move,’ he continues to move,” Haberfeld said on the CBS Evening News.
The shooting has touched off protests in Bridgeton, a struggling city of about 25,000 people — two-thirds of them black or Hispanic — 35 miles from Philadelphia. The case came after months of turbulent demonstrations and violence over the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers – Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Days is black, his partner Worley white. The passenger was black, as was the driver.
The local prosecutor in Cumberland County has already recused herself from the case because she knows Officer Days. But critics said that is not enough, and her whole office must give the case to the state.
Both Days and Worley were placed on paid leave following the incident.
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