A New Jersey state police sergeant won’t face felony charges after he fatally shot and killed a Black man on the Backyard State Parkway two years in the past.
The state lawyer normal’s workplace mentioned a state grand jury declined to cost Sgt. Randall Wetzel within the capturing loss of life of 28-year-old Maurice Gordon. He died two days earlier than George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, touching off a nationwide examination of using deadly pressure by law enforcement officials.
Gordon, an UberEats driver from Poughkeepsie often known as “Junior,” interacted with six officers throughout 4 completely different encounters over a 28-hour span. However the officers have been all unaware he’d been stopped earlier than. When Sgt. Wetzel pulled him over, Gordon was rushing close to exit 50, going 101 mph, authorities mentioned.
Dashcam movies launched by the lawyer normal’s workplace present Wetzel requested Gordon to maneuver his automotive to the shoulder, however Gordon’s automotive wouldn’t begin. Wetzel let Gordon wait contained in the police cruiser for a tow truck. However Gordon may be seen making an attempt to open the door a number of instances as Wetzel motions him to get again in.
When Wetzel, who is white, opens the again door to offer Gordon a masks, Gordon will get out and the 2 begin combating on the aspect of the freeway, the movies present. Gordon then tries to get into the driving force’s seat of the police automotive — twice — and Wetzel pepper sprays him. After extra bodily battle, Wetzel fires his gun six instances, killing Gordon.
Within the hours previous to the capturing, Gordon had been pulled over for rushing or helped by police when he ran out of gasoline on the freeway. Within the movies of the a number of police stops Gordon may be heard telling one officer, “I’m trying to get to a very far place … to the end of the video game.”
Gordon’s loss of life in Might 2020 sparked calls to enhance disaster intervention coaching for police amid a better reckoning for police reforms throughout the nation.
“Today’s vote of no true bill is another reminder that police accountability still escapes Black people in New Jersey,” William O. Wagstaff, an lawyer representing Gordon’s household, mentioned in a press release. He referred to as the information “another hindrance to the family’s grieving process.”
Wagstaff had beforehand referred to as for an impartial investigation into the loss of life because the state police are a part of the lawyer normal’s workplace.
“The way the New Jersey attorney general’s office handled the careful curation and release of videos and information when Junior was first killed reflected what I believe was a predetermination that the state of New Jersey wanted Sgt. Wetzel exonerated,” Wagstaff mentioned.
Wagstaff additionally filed an extreme pressure case in federal courtroom final March in opposition to Wetzel, the state police and the lawyer normal’s workplace. The case stays pending.
State police didn’t reply to a request for remark or verify whether or not Wetzel is again on the job. He was positioned on paid administrative depart through the course of the investigation.