A southern New Jersey police department has just released a disturbing video of a fatal shooting of an African-American man during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. The video released by the Bridgeton Police Department shows 36-year-old Jerame Reid with his hands up as he's shot by two police officers. Released following calls from activists, the video may provide further evidence that this was a case of excessive use of force by local police.
Reid and his friend Leroy Tutt, who was the driver of the vehicle, were pulled over on Dec. 30 for allegedly rolling through a stop sign. As the video shows, the traffic stop escalated quickly, when the officer claims he saw a handgun in the glove compartment. A second police officer swiftly comes to the driver side door, gun raised.
The first police officer, who's also African-American, can be heard yelling, "Don't you f--king move!" several times. He also said, gun pointed at Reid, "I'm going to shoot you!" and, "If you reach for something, you're going to be f--king dead, I'm telling you!"
In the video, you can see the driver's hands raised and sticking out of the car window. Because of the dark lighting on the passenger side, it's hard to visualize what Reid is doing. However, you can hear Reid saying, "I ain't got no reason to reach for nothing, bro." And, when he steps out of the car, his hands are clearly raised.
Reid was allegedly shot by both police officers, who flanked the sides of the car. According to NBC Philadelphia, there was at least one bullet hole found on the windshield.
Although authorities found an armed gun at the scene, witnesses maintain that Reid's hands were empty when he was fatally shot. The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating Reid's death, in accordance with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, to see if excessive force was used, and if charges should be brought against the officers. Prosecutors won't release any more information on the case, because of a possible grand jury indictment.
Prosecutors released this statement on Wednesday, via the South Jersey Times:
The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is committed to conducting a thorough, fair and impartial investigation into the police involved shooting death of Jerame Reid. Requests for the release of additional information while the confidential investigation is ongoing stand in the way of completing a neutral, objective and independent evaluation of the facts.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey Attorney General told the South Jersey Times that all the evidence will be presented to a grand jury "unless the undisputed facts indicate that the use of force was justifiable under the law." Meanwhile, local activists are calling on the state's Attorney General to take over the case.Protests also continue in the small New Jersey suburb just outside of Philadelphia. In the wake of Reid's death, residents have been taking the slogans from Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City, as their own tale of excessive police force unfortunately unfolds in their community.
Images: screenshot/ABC 11, Getty Images