New Jersey’s attorney general has released shocking police dash-camera videos of last month’s fatal freeway shooting of 28-year-old Maurice S. Gordon, an unarmed black man who was shot by Sgt. Randall Wetzel, a white state trooper.
The newly released audio and video footage paint a bizarre picture of Gordon’s final 30 hours of his life between May 22nd and May 23rd. The ordeal began when Gordon’s friends in Poughkeepsie, New York called 911 at 3:23 a.m. on May 22nd concerned for Gordon, who he says had just left his house “looking panicked” and describing “something about having a paranormal experience.”
Following the call, police had five encounters with Gordon: twice after discovering the man in his disabled car, another after he had run out of gas and another two times, when he was pulled over for allegedly driving over 100 m.p.h., according to New Jersey State Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal.
During the fifth and final encounter, Sgt. Wetzel pulled over Gordon’s black Honda Civic at 6:26 a.m. on May 23rd, after clocking the car speeding at 110 m.p.h. AG Grewal claims that during the stop, Gordon’s vehicle became disabled and wouldn’t start, so Wetzel called for a tow truck. Allegedly, as they waited for the tow truck to arrive, Wetzel invited Gordon to sit in the backseat of his patrol car. Dashcam video from inside the patrol vehicle showed Gordon unbuckling his seatbelt and trying to get out, to which Wetzel told him to stay put in fear of being hit by oncoming traffic on the freeway.
“I keep telling you to do not get out of the car, but you keep hopping out,” Wetzel explained to Gordon at one point. “Why do you keep taking your seatbelt off?” Wetzel also asked Gordon. “Just keep it on in case someone hits us from behind.”
Wetzel, at one point, asked Gordon if he wanted to wear a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic. When Gordon said that he did, Wetzel exited the vehicle and walked around to the rear passenger door to hand him one, as can be seen in the footage. For reasons unknown, Gordon unbuckled his seatbelt and ran from the vehicle once Wetzel exited the car. The officer is then heard repeatedly ordering Gordon back into the car to no avail. Footage captures the two men struggling outside the car before Gordon is seen breaking free and attempting to get into the driver’s seat of the patrol car.
Wetzel then pepper-sprayed Gordon and pulled him away from the vehicle. The two tussled at the rear of the patrol car before six shots were heard. Gordon is seen falling to the ground, with Wetzel then handcuffing him and yelling “shots fired” into his mobile radio and ordering EMTs to the scene.
“Our team of independent investigators has been working hard to complete the initial investigation into the shooting death of Maurice Gordon as quickly as possible. That initial investigation is now complete,” Grewal said in a statement before releasing the videos and 911 tapes.
However, Gordon’s family and their attorney are demanding answers about why the man was murdered.
Gordon’s mother, Racquel Barrett, gave an interview to ABC News on Sunday night where she explained that her son was not a violent person, but rather a college student who was studying chemistry at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie.
“I want the world to know my son is genuinely a lovely, lovely, lovely young man. Not hearing his voice is making me weak every day.” Barrett went on to say, “He’s a person always into books and reading and studying and working as well. He’s always contributing to society.”
AG Grewal said that the evidence will be presented to a grand jury.