Witnesses dispute the police account of a traffic stop shooting late Tuesday that left a New Jersey man dead.
Police in Bridgeton stopped a car about 9:20 p.m. for unspecified reasons in a residential neighborhood, and multiple people said they witnessed two officers open fire on 36-year-old Jerame Reid.
Prosecutors said “during the course of the stop a handgun was revealed and later recovered,” but investigators have not specified whether the weapon was found before or after Reid – a passenger in the car – was shot.
The driver, whose name was not released, was not injured and was taken into police custody afterward.
Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley have been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
Zakeeda Hill, 28, and her 12-year-old cousin, Josh Scurry, said they watched the traffic stop and shooting from a home across the street.
Hill told The Daily Journal that the car’s occupants insisted to officers that they didn’t have anything and asked police why they had been pulled over.
Suddenly, they said, officers opened fire. Hill and Scurry each agreed they heard at least seven gunshots.
Tahli Dawkins, 34, told the Press of Atlantic City that he watched officers approach the car with their weapons drawn and yell “don’t effing move” at the occupants before suddenly opening fire.
Denzel Mosley, 17, witnessed the incident from the attic of his house, which overlooked the shooting scene.
He told KYW-TV that both of Reid’s hands were in “plain sight,” and the teen said he never saw a gun.
“They were telling him, ‘Get out the car,’” Mosley said. “(Officers were) like, ‘Stop!’ and they started shooting.”
The traffic stop was recorded on cell phone video by one witness and posted online, but it does not show the shooting directly.
Ben Mosely, a retired sheriff’s deputy, told WPVI-TV he watched the incident from his bedroom window.
He said Reid had gotten out of his car but then tried to get back into the vehicle when officers opened fire, but – based on his own police training — he does not believe the shooting was justified.
“I saw a disarmed man go down to the ground and get shot,” Mosley said. “That’s exactly what I saw.”
All the witnesses agree the incident escalated quickly from a traffic stop to a fatal shooting.
“It happened so fast,” Hill said. “It didn’t make no sense.”
Reid’s wife admits her husband had a criminal record, but she said he walked out of jail a free man and didn’t deserve to die.
“I’m hurt, I’m disgusted,” said Lawanda Reid, the mother of Reid’s 3-month-old son. “My biggest fear has come true. I lost my best friend, my soul mate. The man that promised to love me indefinitely and beyond is gone.”
Reid was sentenced in 1994 to 15 years in prison for his conviction on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault, reported the Press of Atlantic City.
Reid filed a federal lawsuit three years ago claiming he was beaten by two Bridgeton jail officers in October 2009 in his cell while awaiting a transfer to another holding cell, reported the Press of Atlantic City.
The newspaper reported at the time that Reid shot at police as he attempted to flee from his home after police came to question him about a stolen gun.
A state trooper shot Reid in the hand, but he was able to run away and eventually surrendered.
The excessive force complaint accuses the officers of beating him, spraying him in the face with chemical irritant, and dumping a bucket of cold water on him.
Reid was taken to a hospital emergency room for treatment, the suit claims.
The suit claims he initially told nurses he was beaten by fellow inmates.
The case remains pending in federal court, and jail officials have disputed its claims.
Worley, one of the officers who shot Reid, has faced previous disciplinary action for insubordination, and the other, Day, is a rookie officer.
The fatal shooting remains under investigation by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.
Watch video of the incident posted online by PuertoRoc210:
Updated Jan. 2 at 3:30 p.m. to include details about Reid’s previous criminal history.