Maurice Gordon was a college student and Uber driver
Recently released police dash-camera footage shows the fatal shooting of a 28-year-old unarmed Black man by a white state trooper last month. The video was finally shared with the public after members of the media, the family, and politicians urged New Jersey’s attorney general to release the findings of the investigation amid ongoing national protests against police brutality.
According to the Washington Post, Maurice Gordon was pulled over by Sgt. Randall Wetzel on May 23 for allegedly speeding. Once he was pulled over, his car became disabled in the left shoulder of the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, according to the attorney general’s office. The officer called a tow truck and offered him a mask, then requested Gordon sit in the back of his police car until a tow truck arrived.
According to the video, Gordon, who was studying chemistry at Dutchess Community College and worked as an Uber driver, sat in the cruiser for approximately 20 minutes before exiting the car. He was not under arrest, however, Wetzel yelled at him to “get back in the car” multiple times, then began struggling with Gordon. The attorney general’s office claims Gordon tried to get into the driver’s seat of Wetzel’s patrol car twice. The first time, Gordon was pepper-sprayed, and the second, Wetzel pulled Gordon out of the driver’s seat and shot him six times.
The incident came after what may have been a mental health episode Gordon was suffering that day. His friend called 911 earlier in the day after Gordon left his house, telling the dispatcher, “He came in and he looked really panicked and everything. He just said he was going for a drive, he wouldn’t tell me where he was going. He looked very, very panicked … he said something about a paranormal experience.” The attorney general also released audio of the call along with the dash-cam footage of Gordon’s death.
The friend called Gordon “a completely harmless guy,” and “a devout Christian. He has a Bible in his car,” USA Today reported.
On Monday, attorney William O. Wagstaff said Gordon’s mother and sister were “outraged” they’d not seen the video before it was released publicly. “They were hurt. They were beside themselves. Both of them were in my arms crying uncontrollably. Because of what they felt was the further victimization of this family,” Wagstaff said.
Wagstaff also said the family believes there is more footage of the incident that hasn’t been released and is asking for an independent prosecutor when the case goes to trial.
“The course of action is continue to be supportive of the family, continue to call on the state of New Jersey to have a truly impartial investigation and presentation of the evidence to the grand jury,” Wagstaff said. “Here you have the state police being investigated by the state’s attorney. It should not be.”