Maurice Gordon

NJ Officials Release Video, Audio Recordings in Police Killing of Unarmed Black Man

Once the attorney general's office completes its investigation, a grand jury will determine if criminal charges will be filed

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New Jersey's attorney general released police audio and video recordings Monday that captured the events leading up to the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Maurice Gordon.

The 12 files provided by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal's office and accompanying descriptions provide Gordon's family with critical details of the night he died.

At approximately 6:26 a.m. on May 23, Gordon was stopped for a second time that hour for driving at speeds over 100 miles per hour, the report says. Sgt. Randall Wetzel of the New Jersey State Police pulled Gordon over on the Garden State Parkway near Exit 50 in Bass River, New Jersey.

The first dash-camera footage from Wetzel's vehicle shows the officer pursue a vehicle that is reported to be Gordon's and pull him over to the left side of the roadway. Wetzel exits his police vehicle and engages in a conversation with the driver, now identified as Gordon.

When Wetzel asks him to move the vehicle to an area that is safer, Gordon says his vehicle has died. In the dash-camera video, his car can be heard failing to start. That's when Wetzel calls for a tow.

"Where do you want to go?" Wetzel can be heard asking before offering a ride to Gordon, who tells the officer he was headed to a car dealership. A few moments later, after Wetzel returns to his vehicle, Gordon steps out of his car. Wetzel then steps back outside and offers to place Gordon in the backseat of his patrol vehicle, which he accepts.

Approximately 20 minutes later, per the attorney general's report, Gordon can be seen in the video removing his seatbelt and exiting the back of the police vehicle after Wetzel opens the door and offers to get him a mask, which Gordon had not been wearing during the length of their encounter.

The rest of their exchange happens out of direct view of the camera but is seen through reflections in the patrol vehicle's windows. Gordon and Wetzel engage in a physical exchange as Gordon attempts to enter the patrol vehicle and sit in the driver's seat, the AG's report says.

According to the report, Sgt. Wetzel first deployed oleoresin capsicum (OS) spray before firing his service weapon six times when Gordon repeated attempts to enter the driver's seat. He then handcuffed Gordon, the report says.

Grewal's office says the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not yet completed its medical examination report. The finished report is supposed to be shared with Gordon's family when completed.

The attorney general's initial phase of the investigation has been completed, according to Grewal's office. Once it is completed, a grand jury will determine if criminal charges will be filed.

Before the files were released Monday afternoon, Gordon's mother, Racquel Barrett, spoke on MSNBC about her search for answers surrounding the events that led to her son's death. She said she flew to the U.S. from the United Kingdom to get answers.

"My life is never, ever gonna be the same again, and I need a police officer or whoever is in charge just to tell me what happened to my son," Barrett said.

The family's lawyer, William Wagstaff, called for more transparency from the New Jersey State Police.

"In this situation, you have the state lawyers investigating state police," Wagstaff said on MSNBC. "So for me, what would be fair in this circumstance is if there was a separate independent prosecutor to make sure consistent with New Jersey law, when this goes to the grand jury, that it's going to be presented in a way that they can get an indictment."

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