Community calls for federal investigation into police killing of South Jersey man

Friends and family of a South Jersey man who was shot and killed by police in Bridgeton last year are calling for a federal civil rights investigation into his death.

Police shot 36-year-old Jerame Reid, who was black, after he defied officers’ orders and began to exit a car that had been pulled over in a routine traffic stop.

A Cumberland County grand jury decided over the summer not to criminally charge the two officers, who have been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

Both men could still face disciplinary action if they are found to have violated Bridgeton Police Department policy, according to police Chief Michael Gaimari, who said he hoped the internal investigation would be concluded by the end of January.

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Gaimari said the department was still conducting its own investigation of the shooting and reviewing material collected by the grand jury.

Activist Walter Hudson, who organized protests on the eve of the anniversary of Reid’s death, said he was not surprised the two officers have avoided punishment for the shooting so far.

“How can a fox investigate another fox over a chicken killing?” he said.

But Gaimari said the department — and the entire city — have been taking the shooting very seriously over the last year.

“No police officer that I’ve ever been involved with in 28 years goes to work thinking that they are going to take somebody’s life. Nor do they go to work believing they’re going to lose their own life,” he said. “Anytime that happens, it is a traumatic experience.”

Gaimari said the police department had not made any changes to its use of force policy as a direct result of the shooting of Reid.

He did note, however, that the force recently received a $20,000 grant from the state attorney general’s office to purchase body cameras, which he hoped to deploy in Bridgeton by the end of 2016.

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