Family demands answers after state police shoot, kill man after traffic stop

The family of a black man from Poughkeepsie is demanding answers after he was killed during an encounter with a white New Jersey State Police sergeant during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway last month.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2020, 11:52 PM

Updated 1,403 days ago

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The family of a black man from Poughkeepsie is demanding answers after he was killed during an encounter with a white New Jersey State Police sergeant during a traffic stop on the Garden State Parkway last month.
The shooting happened on May 23. The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General says that 28-year-old Maurice Gordon had been sitting in the back of a police car for about 20 minutes when Sgt. Randall Wetzel offered him a mask. Gordon is seen on video getting out of the car and then there appears to be a struggle. Gordon is seen trying to get into the driver’s seat of the police car. Wetzel uses pepper spray on them and then the video appears to show the two men wrestling.
Authorities say Wetzel fired his gun six times, killing Gordon. Gordon’s family is now questioning what happened to cause the incident.
VIDEO: New Jersey State Police shooting involving Maurice Gordon

“There was no indication he was under arrest. He had no weapon. You had already frisked him prior to him getting in the back of the car, so you have been with this person almost 40 minutes,” says family attorney William Wagstaff.
Authorities say that police pulled Gordon over because he was driving over 100 mph. They say that during the stop his car was disabled. As they wait for a tow truck, Wetzel asked Gordon if he wanted to sit in the cruiser.
“He was waiting for a tow truck and he had already been told he could ride with the tow truck driver when he arrived if he wanted to,” says Wagstaff.
This was Gordon’s fourth encounter with state police on the Parkway in a span of about three hours, according to officials. Around 3:15 a.m. Gordon rain out of gas in Brick Township. Just before 5 a.m. authorities say that Gordon again needed a tow truck in Waretown. Then around 6:15 a.m., Gordon was stopped for speeding in Stafford. And then just before 6:30 a.m., he was stopped for speeding in Bass River, where he died.
Gordon appears to struggle to articulate where he was going during the traffic stop in Stafford. A state trooper asks him where he is going. Gordon replies, “end of the video game.”
The trooper asks him what he means by that, but then lets him leave without incident.
Gordon also appeared to have trouble communicating with Wetzel.
“Are you on medication or anything?” Wetzel is heard asking. “I’m trying to understand why you keep jumping out of the car here and I told you not to.”
Gordon’s family says that they also want to know what happened after he was shot.
“If they tried to offer any first aid. If he was put into an ambulance. If he was left there to die. Did he just bleed out on the side of the Garden State Parkway,” says Wagstaff.
Gordon’s death comes while tensions are high between the black community and police following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Nationwide protests have been going on for two weeks following Floyd’s death.
Gov. Phil Murphy says that the case will be presented to a grand jury.


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