BRIDGETON, N.J. (AP) — A video of police officers confronting and then fatally shooting a black man at a traffic stop has raised questions and stirred anger over another death at the hands of police.
On Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton's civil rights organization got involved. The National Action Network released a statement saying it was joining other groups calling for the state government to investigate.
The video of the Dec. 30 killing of Jerame Reid in Bridgeton, a struggling, mostly minority city of 25,000 people, was released this week.
The nearly two-minute deadly standoff came after the killings of black men in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, triggered months of turbulent protests, violence and calls for a re-examination of police use of force.
Attorney Conrad Benedetto said he has been hired by Reid's wife, Lawanda Reid, to investigate. He said in a statement the footage "raises serious questions as to the legality and/or reasonableness of the officers' actions that night" because Reid was shot as he raised his hands.
Police, with the dashboard camera in their cruiser rolling, pulled a Jaguar over for running a stop sign on a dark night. But things suddenly turned tense when one of the officers warned his partner he could see a gun in the glove compartment.
Screaming repeatedly "Don't you f---ing move!" and "Show me your hands!" at the man in the passenger seat, the officer reached into the car and appeared to remove a silver handgun.
Then, the passenger, despite being warned repeatedly not to move, stepped out of the Jaguar, his hands raised about shoulder level.
The officers opened fire, killing him.
Reid and the man driving the car were black. The Bridgeton officer who spotted the gun, Braheme Days, is black; his partner, Roger Worley, is white. Both officers have been placed on leave while prosecutors investigate.
Reid, 36, spent about 13 years in prison for shooting at three state troopers when he was a teenager. And Days knew who he was; Days was among the arresting officers last year when Reid was charged with several crimes, including drug possession and obstruction.
In Bridgeton, where two-thirds of the residents are black or Hispanic, the killing has stirred small protests over the past couple of weeks, including a demonstration on Wednesday, a day after the video was made public at the request of two newspapers under the state's open records law.
The Cumberland County prosecutor's office previously said a gun was seized during the stop but would not comment further on the investigation. Bridgeton police would not answer any questions about the video and said they opposed its release as neither compassionate nor professional.
County prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae has disqualified herself from the case because she knows Days. But Lawanda Reid's lawyer and activists are demanding the state attorney general's office take over the investigation, something it said it will not do.
Sharpton's group added to that call on Thursday.
"We maintain our position that local officials should not handle incidents such as this," the group said.
Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield, New Jersey.