The family of a black New York man fatally shot during an encounter with a white New Jersey state trooper is demanding answers after receiving little information about his death.
Maurice S. Gordon, 28, was shot and killed May 23 on the Garden State Parkway in Bass River, where he was pulled over by a New Jersey State Police trooper, the New Jersey Attorney’s General Office announced late last month.
But other key details in the police-involved shooting have been limited, an attorney for Gordon told the Burlington County Times after seeing a portion of video of the fatal encounter.
“As an initial matter, when you have family that is grieving, have a son that is killed unexpectedly by a police officer, you want to know the name of the killer, whether [Gordon] died on the side of the road, in [an] ambulance or at the hospital, whether there were first aid efforts,” attorney William Wagstaff III told the newspaper. “It just doesn’t pass the smell test when you say you’re not releasing that information.”
An investigation into the shooting is being conducted by the New Jersey Attorney’s General’s Office, which announced Sunday it was now “in a position” to release footage of the encounter.
“Our team of independent investigators has been working hard to complete the initial investigation into the shooting death of Maurice Gordon as quickly as possible,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “We have reached out to Mr. Gordon’s family to provide them an opportunity to privately view the footage before its public release.”
Gordon, who was black, was unarmed when he was shot by a white trooper several times during the incident. The trooper handcuffed the Poughkeepsie resident after shooting him, Wagstaff said.
Gordon, a chemistry student at New York’s Dutchess Community College, worked as an Uber driver and it’s unclear if he was working at the time, but he could have been picking up a fare, Wagstaff told the newspaper.
Gordon’s mother, Racquel Barrett, flew from her home in the United Kingdom Thursday in search of more information, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“I can’t eat, I can’t sleep and just want answers to what happened to my son at 6:30 in the morning,” Barrett told the newspaper. “I don’t know how I’m going to go in life not hearing his voice.”
In a portion of video provided by the attorney general’s office, Wagstaff said Gordon was frisked before being put in a police cruiser, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Some 30 minutes later, after not being told why he was being held, Gordon tried to get out of the police vehicle — and the trooper responded roughly just before multiple gunshots and Gordon’s screams are heard, Wagstaff said.
The video then shows a trooper picking up Gordon’s body before dropping it and handcuffing him, the attorney said.
“He was cuffed after being shot and manhandled on the floor,” Wagstaff told the newspaper.
It’s unclear whether Gordon died on the side of the Garden State Parkway or at a hospital, Wagstaff said.
Audio and video of the encounter is expected to be released as early as today.