The ACLU joined gay rights groups, civic and religious leaders in calling for an independent investigation into the death of a prominent Atlanta CEO who was shot and killed last week during an undercover sweep of alleged homosexual activity in a New Jersey park.
DeFarra “Dean” Gaymon, 48, CEO of the Credit Union of Atlanta, was shot and killed last Friday in Newark’s Branch Brook Park.
Authorities said he was masturbating and propositioned an undercover Essex County sheriff’s detective before a confrontation that led to the fatal shooting.
The undercover officer, whose name has not been released, told investigators that on the evening of June 17, he had returned to the woods after chasing down another suspect, because he realized he had lost his handcuffs.
When he bent down to retrieve his handcuffs, he claims he was approached by Gaymon, a married father of four, and was propositioned for sex.
The former Montclair, NJ resident, in town for his 30-year high school reunion, “appeared to panic” when the detective identified himself and showed his badge in an area of the park known to the Essex County Sheriff’s Office as a gay sex pickup spot, authorities said.
Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino said Gaymon then assaulted the officer and ran.
“The officer made repeated commands to Mr. Gaymon to stop and submit. Mr. Gaymon ignored those commands, did not raise his arms or make his hands visible and repeatedly threatened to kill the officer,” Laurino said. “Mr. Gaymon then lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket.”
“What we have here is a situation where an unarmed citizen ends up dead as a result of what would have been a minor crime,” said Deborah Jacobs, executive director for the ACLU-NJ.
A key question asked by all groups involved was why the officer pulled his gun for what Jacobs at the ACLU called “basically a misdemeanor for which you normally get a fine.”
Gaymon’s family 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, non-aggressive 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.”