Family Demands Investigation
According to a New York Times report, Credit Union of Atlanta CEO DeFarra “Dean” Gaymon, 48, was shot and killed by a police officer in Newark, New Jersey, on July 16 after allegedly propositioning a plain-clothes police officer at a gay cruising area.
Gaymon stopped by the Branch Brook Park area while en route to his 30th high school reunion at Montclair High School. The neighborhood is known for attracting sexual activity and male prostitutes, according to the report.
Essex County prosecutor Robert D. Laurino told the paper that the 29-year-old officer, whose name hasn’t been released, claims he fired in self-defense. The officer attempted to arrest Gaymon for lewd behavior, and after Gaymon was cornered, he purportedly tried to disarm the officer. The officer shot Gaymon once. He died three hours later at nearby University Hospital from the gunshot wound to his abdomen.
The chairs of Garden State Equality and the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey sent a letter to Laurino and Essex County sheriff Armando B. Fontoura demanding an investigation into the killing. The letter asks if the incident was part of a sting operation in Branch Brook Park and requests a meeting to further discuss the killing.
"In no way do we condone any violation of lewdness statutes," the letter reads. "But any sting operation targeting gay men or LGBT people specifically, or anyone perceived as such, is unconscionable—and as we strongly believe, illegal."
The family of the prominent Atlanta executive is demanding a federal investigation, accusing the officer who said he fired in self-defense of lying.
"We know that the police killed an innocent man, with no history of or disposition towards violence," the Gaymon family said in their statement, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "Dean Gaymon was a nonviolent, nonaggressive and nonthreatening person his entire life," said the statement. "It would have been completely and totally against his nature to 'tussle' with a police officer, to resist authority, to assault a police officer... Words such as 'I am going to kill you' would not be uttered from him."
Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, told ABC News that the prosecutor did not have an immediate response to the Gaymon family statement.
"The investigation is continuing," said Carter. "Our next move would be to present the case to the grand jury." Under New Jersey law, whenever a police officer is involved in a shooting, a grand jury must hear the case. It is up to the grand jury to decide whether the shooting was justified, said Carter, who anticipates that the proceedings will take weeks.
Carter said that the police officer who shot Gaymon had been with the Essex County Sheriff's Office for eight years.
"It's a very large park. There are ball fields and cherry blossoms but there is a secluded area where there have been complaints about public sex, which is why there was an undercover operation to deter that activity," said Carter.
Carter said that there was no specific complaint made regarding Gaymon and that the police officer had been assigned to the area to deal with the "ongoing problem."
Gaymon was married and the father of four children.