A video released by the Bridgeton, New Jersey Police Department shows two officers fatally shooting an unarmed man.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley pulled over a sedan during a routine traffic stop on December 30th. Officer Days approached the passenger side of the car and calmly explained to the motorists that they were stopped for allegedly driving through a stop sign.
The conversation quickly escalated, however, when Days accused the man in the front passenger seat, 36-year-old Jerame Reid, of reaching for a weapon in the glove compartment. Days and Worley quickly pulled out their guns and yelled at the car’s occupants to show their hands and refrain from moving.
Reid insists that he was not reaching for a weapon and had his hands up. After a minute or so of intense arguing, Reid opened the car door and stepped out, despite Days’s order not to do so. Though Reid was unarmed and had his hands up, Days and Worley quickly shot and killed him with at least six shots.
The incident is another high-profile case of police use of force that critics say is excessive. The killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in recent months provoked outcry and has sparked a national conversation about excessive use of force by law enforcement, particularly against minorities.
Walter Hudson, chairman and founder of the National Awareness Alliance, an organization that monitors alleged cases of police brutality, believes the officers acted recklessly. In response to the incident, he organized two public protests and has asked the State Attorney’s Office to investigate the incident.
The video “confirmed that [Reid’s] hands were up, and he was shot,” Hudson said. “We want to ensure a fair and impartial investigation. We’re not asking for any special favors. We’re asking for what is right.”
High-profile cases such as Garner’s death are increasingly being recorded by patrol car dash cameras as well as civilian bystanders. The release of these videos present both an advantage and a burden for law enforcement.
One expert in police procedures, Prof. John DeCarlo at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and coordinator of the police studies program, claims that a body camera would have been preferable over the dash cam to better assess whether the officers’ use of force was justified.
“In car police cameras benefit the public, the officer and police administration,” says Jubal Ragsdale, President 10-8 Video. “These benefits include: officer safety, officer accountability, public opinion, citizen complaints and the ability to use recorded footage for training and review. Recorded video can then be crucial for the officer, department or the public in determining facts in any encounter. By showing an actual account of what occurred, in car cameras are not biased and can show when either the officers or the citizens are wrongly accused or acted improperly.”
Reid was African-American, as was the driver, 46 year-old Leroy Tutt. Officer Days is also African-American. Officer Worley is white. The officers have since been placed on administrative leave. Tutt was arrested at the scene and brought in for question. No charges were filed.