Last month, Andy posted about the death of DeFarra Gaymon, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Newark, NJ during a crackdown of cruising at a park in the city. Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura tells the New Jersey Star-Ledger that the five-year sting operation in the park has been suspended:
"We’ve temporarily suspended the undercover operation there, but we're increasing uniformed patrol at Branch Brook. It's on hold for now. We're looking to tweak it and make some adjustments."New Jersey's largest LGBT organization is getting involved in the incident and past arrests in the park.
Garden State Equality, the state’s leading gay rights advocacy group, has now asked for documents related to previous lewdness arrests made at Branch Brook Park since 2005, saying any operation "targeting gay men or LGBT people specifically, or anyone perceived as such, is unconscionable — and as we strongly believe, illegal."As noted earlier, the prosecutor on the case claims that "Mr. Gaymon reached into his pocket and lunged at the officer in an attempt to disarm the officer. The officer shot him after "fearing for his life." The victim's family is now saying that that is complete nonsense. They claim that Gaymon would have never reacted violently and the police officer is lying in order to protect himself. They are also requesting that the FBI investigate the incident.
Legal experts said though police cannot go after a specific group on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, neither can a defendant use that as a shield against committing a crime.
Joel Caplan, a Rutgers Law School professor, said both sides have legitimate concerns. "If a police department has jurisdiction in a particular area, it has a right to enforce the law," he said. "If a bunch of young kids are playing loud music at night, police aren’t targeting the juveniles, they’re targeting the activity. But it also raises the question, why (is the sheriff) choosing to enforce that and not something else?"