Joseph A. Lombardo
On Tuesday, January 20, the Bridgeton Police Department released footage showing a routine New Jersey traffic violation stop that turned deadly. As medical examiners continue to investigate the use of deadly force in Upper Deerfield resident Jerame Reid’s death, local civil rights activists are calling for the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office to turn the case over to the New Jersey Attorney General.
Dashcam Shows Fatal Struggle with Bridgeton PD During Traffic Stop
On December 30, 2014, 46-year-old driver Leroy Tutt of Long Branch and 36-year-old passenger Jerame Reid of Upper Deerfield drove through a stop sign near the intersection of Henry St. and South Ave. in Bridgeton. Moments later, the men were approached by Bridgeton PD Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley. But what should have been a routine traffic stop ending with a citation instead ended in Reid’s death, as the newly unveiled dashcam footage shows.
The footage appears to depict the following sequence of events: first, we hear an officer saying “I got it” as the patrol car pulls up to Tutt and Reid’s parked vehicle. The exchange begins normally enough, with Officer Braheme Days calmly saying, “How are you all doing? Officer Days, Bridgeton Police. The reason I’m pulling you over, you went right through that stop sign back there.”
Days then asks to see a driver’s license. After some movement and muffled sounds from inside the vehicle, the mood of the situation changes in an instant. Days abruptly pulls out his weapon and shouts, “Show me your hands,” pointing his gun toward Reid. At this point a second man, Officer Roger Worley, joins Days on the other side of the vehicle, pointing his weapon toward Tutt in the driver’s seat.
Officer Days then tells Worley to “get him out of the car,” saying he can see a gun in the glove compartment. Officer Worley takes hold of one of Tutt’s wrists, while on Reid’s side of the vehicle Officer Days repeatedly shouts, “Don’t you f—–g move! Show me your hands!”
The passenger side begins to open as Days leans his weight on the door.
“I’m telling you,” Days warns, “I’m gonna shoot you, you’re gonna be f—–g dead… You reach for something, you’re gonna be dead.” A moment later Days shouts, “He’s reaching, he’s reaching!”
Reid emerges from the passenger side, and Officer Days fires.
All this elapses in the space of about one and a half minutes.
Activist Walter Hudson Raises Concerns About Investigative Neutrality
While the incident occurred on December 30, only now has the dashcam footage been released to the public. On the heels of the deaths of Eric Garner in New York City and Mike Brown in Ferguson, the tape is stirring up considerable controversy.
In particular, some civil rights activists are concerned about who will ultimately investigate the circumstances of Reid’s death. Salem County-based activist Walter Hudson, who serves as chairman of the National Awareness Alliance, wants the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office to hand the investigative reins to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
“One of the things I want to talk about is the prosecutor,” says Hudson. “I met with the attorney general today and the human rights commission in Trenton and I made a plea to them to take over the investigation of Jerame Reid.”
Hudson is concerned that an investigation by Cumberland County will not be neutral, because Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae is reportedly a personal friend of Officer Days. Webb-McRae has already recused herself from the case for that very reason, but her associates remain involved in the case. Hudson is “demanding that prosecutor Webb-McRae recuse her entire staff from this investigation.”
So far, it seems unlikely that the Office of the Attorney General will take the case from Cumberland County. Spokesperson Paul Loriquet has confirmed that “there were… no discussions about the case, which is pending with the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.”
Meanwhile, the Reid family is embarking on its own investigation into Jerame’s death, working with attorney Conrad J. Benedetto. Benedetto asserts that “footage showing the shooting of Mr. Reid raises serious questions as to the legality and/or reasonableness of the officers’ actions that night… We are in the process of obtaining copies of the footage so that it can be analyzed in greater detail.”
Records indicate that seven Municipal Court complaints have been filed against Officer Days since 2013, while two complaints were filed against Officer Worley during the same time period. However, the complaints were eventually dismissed. The officers are being placed on paid leave while the investigation is underway.
While driver Leroy Tutt had a criminal history including arrests for drug possession with intent to distribute marijuana and heroin, resisting arrest, and a bench warrant for failure to appear in court, no new charges have been filed.
If you’ve been arrested for drug crimes or weapons crimes in New Jersey, or if you need help challenging a traffic ticket, attorney Joseph Lombardo can help. To set up a free and private case evaluation, call Lombardo Law at (609) 418-4537 today.
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