NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The family of an unarmed Georgia man fatally shot in a northern New Jersey park by an undercover sheriff's officer has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Essex County authorities.
Defarra "Dean" Gaymon, who headed the Atlanta City Employees Credit Union, was in New Jersey for a high school reunion in 2010. He was shot by a detective who was investigating public sex in Branch Brook Park in Newark.
Gaymon's wife and four children settled Tuesday for $1.5 million and will receive about $730,000 when attorneys' fees and costs are subtracted, according to court filings. As part of the settlement, the county sheriff's office did not admit wrongdoing.
The Essex County prosecutor's office said after the shooting that Officer Edward Esposito was investigating reports of public sex in the park along with a partner, who was in their patrol car at the time. Esposito told prosecutors they had already arrested one suspect around 6 p.m. when he realized he had dropped a pair of handcuffs in a wooded area.
Esposito located the handcuffs, and while leaning over to pick them up, was approached by Gaymon, who was "engaged in a sex act at the time," according to prosecutors.
The officer said he identified himself and tried to arrest Gaymon, who fled.
While fleeing, Gaymon allegedly threatened to kill Esposito. The pursuit ended near the edge of a pond, where Gaymon allegedly reached into his pocket and lunged at Esposito, who fired one shot.
The 48-year-old Gaymon was pronounced dead about three hours later at University Hospital. A state grand jury declined to indict Esposito in 2011.
Attorneys for Esposito, the sheriff's department and Essex County did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. Michael Critchley and Christopher Kinum, attorneys for Gaymon's widow, Mellanie Gaymon, declined to comment on behalf of their client.
The shooting prompted the suspension of the undercover operation at the park, which had been criticized by civil rights groups for allegedly targeting gay men.