A New Jersey grand jury will not indict the Essex County Sheriff's Police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Atlanta banking executive last July in a park.
DeFarra Gaymon was killed by the undercover officer during a crackdown on public sex in Newark's Branch Brook Park. The grand jury heard only the officer's account and there were no witnesses, reports the New York Times.
"We made an effort to find out if there was anyone who saw the events in the park," said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office. "No witnesses ever came forward to say they saw all, or a portion, of the encounter."
Ms. Carter declined to comment on what evidence was presented to the grand jury, which decided on Friday not to indict the officer. The acting Essex County prosecutor, Carolyn A. Murray, told the Gaymon family late Monday, Ms. Carter said. [...]
Officer Esposito has said he was bending down to pick up his handcuffs when he was approached by Mr. Gaymon, who was “engaged in a sexual act,” the prosecutor’s office said. When Officer Esposito tried to arrest him, “Mr. Gaymon appeared to panic, assaulted the police officer and fled,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The officer cornered him near a pond. Mr. Gaymon threatened to kill the officer, "then lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket," the prosecutor’s office said the officer had reported. Officer Esposito, "fearing for his life," fired once.
The park is a longtime cruising spot for men seeking anonymous sex "and has been the site of many police sting operations." An August 2010 report in the New York Times recounted Esposito's creepy devotion to undercover park detail. It also speculated on his and Gaymon's sexuality.
Officer Edward Esposito—the police officer who killed the unarmed man—may "have been involved in at least three 2009 public sex arrests that also turned violent," reported Gay City News in January 2011. Up to 16 arrests possibly made by Esposito follow a disturbingly similar pattern.
DeFarra Gaymon was married with four children. Gaymon's family has disputed the official version but has not commented on the sexual angle of the case. Family, friends and co-workers say the descriptions of Gaymon's alleged violent behavior are uncharacteristic and possibly even fabricated. The family is suing Officer Esposito and the sheriff’s office in State Superior Court in Essex County.
New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow announced that she would not investigate the shooting. The family asked the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark to take over the investigation.
The Essex County Sheriff has suspended the five-year park sting operation at Newark's Branch Brook Park.
Read R20"s complete covereage HERE.
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