Suit: Race a factor in death of Black man killed by N.J. state trooper

Maurice Gordon and his mother, Racquel Barrett. (Provided)

Maurice Gordon and his mother, Racquel Barrett. (Provided)

The family of a Black New York state man who was fatally shot by a New Jersey state trooper last year filed a lawsuit against the state in federal court on Thursday, alleging race was a factor in the death on the Garden State Parkway.

Maurice Gordon Jr. was shot six times by a trooper, according to video released last year by the attorney general’s office, which is investigating the violence. The suit was brought by Gordon’s mother, Racquel Barrett, and father, Maurice Gordon Sr., in U.S. District Court in Camden.

The suit names the state of New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan, and the trooper who shot Gordon as defendants. The family are seeking $50 million in damages, but punitive damages.

A message seeking a response has been with the attorney general’s office, which represents the state and typically officials in such lawsuits.

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Among the charges brought in the suit are that officials failed to protect Gordon, a Black man, and other Black people, despite a history of troopers disproportionately subjecting people of color to violence.

Gordon died last May two days before George Floyd died in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death after a white Minneapolis officer held him down with his knee on Floyd’s neck touched off global protests about race.

Gordon’s family’s attorney has said race played a role in his death and that he’d be alive if he were white.

Gordon, 28, of Poughkeepsie, New York, died after the May 23 encounter a trooper in Bass River, 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of Atlantic City.

About a dozen audio and video recordings from the traffic stop show a New Jersey state trooper firing his handgun six times, killing Gordon after struggling with him on the side of the Garden State Parkway.

The case involving the trooper and Gordon must go before a grand jury under a 2019 law aimed at holding law enforcement accountable. It’s unclear if the case has yet been brought to a grand jury.

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