NNN – No New News? – 6/9/20 – New Jersey Attorney General releases recordings of officer-involved shooting after scuffle with black man

By Alta Spells, Ganesh Setty, and Julian Cummings, CNN

Updated 4:06 AM ET, Tue June 9, 2020

(CNN)A New Jersey State trooper fatally shot a black man during a struggle after the man was pulled over for allegedly driving 110 miles per hour, the state attorney general’s office says.The May shooting remains under investigation by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office, which on Monday released multiple videos, a 911 call and details of several incidents allegedly involving the driver, along with his identity and that of the trooper.Maurice Gordon, 28, was shot and killed on May 23 along a highway in New Jersey after authorities say a struggle occurred between Gordon and Sgt. Randall Wetzel. Investigators have also released details of four other incidents they say involved Gordon and police within 30 hours preceding the shooting.

Wetzel fired his weapon six times and then put handcuffs on Gordon during the fatal altercation, according to the AG’s release. Another state trooper attempted to provide aid to Gordon but did not detect a pulse. An additional state trooper subsequently also tried to render aid before EMS arrived and pronounced Gordon dead. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not completed its report, according to Dawn Thomas, communications deputy director for the NJ Department of Health.

The struggle between Gordon and Wetzel

Before the struggle between the two men begins, video released by the AG’s office shows Wetzel pulling over Gordon’s car and accusing him of speeding. He asks Gordon to move his car closer to the median but is told that the car would no longer start. Wetzel called a tow truck for Gordon.Gordon is then seen exiting his vehicle and Wetzel stops him and offers for Gordon to sit in the back of his police vehicle, which he agrees to do.The conflict between the two began after Wetzel offered Gordon a mask to wear. Video shows Gordon get out of the car quickly and a scuffle begins.During the struggle, which is seen partially on video through windows from the inside of Wetzel’s vehicle, Gordon tries to enter the front seat of the police car two times.Wetzel is seen chasing Gordon and pulling him away from the vehicle, according to the N.J. AG , the officer sprayed him with pepper spray. After Gordon attempted to gain access to Wetzel’s vehicle a second time the two men are seen fighting and then shots are heard.Prior to Monday’s release by the AG, William Wagstaff, a family attorney for Gordon, who had seen a portion of the video of the fatal incident said that after Gordon tried to exit the vehicle that Wetzel started roughing him up resulting in shots being fired.”After separating himself from the officer twice, it appears that he was trying to separate himself from the officer, with no warning fired multiple shots into his body,” Wagstaff told CNN Sunday.Wetzel is heard on the video after the altercation saying that Gordon went for his gun during the scuffle.Wagstaff said that for nine days, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office withheld any information regarding Gordon’s death, including the name of the officer involved in the incident from his family.In response, Sharon Lauchaire, spokeswoman for the NJ AG’s Office, said they provided Wagstaff with a link to the video footage so that he and the Gordon family would have the opportunity to watch the footage privately before its public release.In a phone call with CNN on Monday, Wagstaff said the NJ AG’s office released the video and audio to the public before Gordon’s family ever got a chance to view it. Gordon’s family said they found out that the videos were released through text messages from other friends and family, according to Wagstaff.”The fact that the video was released to the public before the family got an opportunity view it…it was insensitive,” Wagstaff said. “I requested specifically for the family to see video before the public. Despite the request, I had to hold the mother and his sister in my arms, crying in agony…to think that millions of people had access to the video before they got an opportunity to see it.”Wagstaff said Monday he had not yet gotten a chance to review the footage in depth, nor read the timeline that the NJ AG’s Office released, as he was assisting the family with planning Gordon’s funeral. He is calling for more transparency from the NJ AG’s office and for an independent prosecutor “to make sure there is impartiality.”

Preceding incidents

In the 30 hours prior to the shooting, there was a 9-1-1 call and other interactions with law enforcement including another a traffic stop for speeding in which Gordon received a ticket from a different state trooper for allegedly driving 101 miles per hour 13 minutes before being stopped by Wetzel, according to the N.J. Attorney General.

The release contains an initial 911 call on May 22 from a friend of Gordon’s to the Poughkeepsie (NY) Police Department expressing concern about his wellbeing.Additional video released shows Gordon arriving at a Wawa convenience store, where the AG’s release said he had been driven by a passerby to get gasoline.

CNN’s Anna Sturla and Laura Ly contributed to this report

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