The Essex County Prosecutor’s office reported today that a grand jury declined to bring any charges against an undercover officer in the last summer’s shooting death of former Montclair resident DeFarra (Dean) Gaymon. Here is the official press release:

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that an Essex County Grand Jury declined to bring any charges against Sheriff’s Officer Edward Esposito, 30, in connection with the shooting death of Atlanta businessman DeFarra Ivan Gaymon, 48.

On July 16, 2010 at approximately 6 p.m. Gaymon was fatally shot in Branch Brook Park in Newark by Esposito, an undercover Essex County Sheriff’s detective investigating complaints of public sexual activity.

According to the officer, he made an arrest in an unrelated case when he realized he had lost a pair of handcuffs during the arrest. After the suspect in that unrelated case was safely secured in the police vehicle, the officer told his partner he was going back into the woods to retrace his steps in an effort to find the missing handcuffs.

While bending down to retrieve the handcuffs, the plainclothes officer was approached by Mr. Gaymon who was engaged in a sex act at the time.

The officer pulled out his badge, identified himself as a police officer and informed Mr. Gaymon he was under arrest. Mr. Gaymon appeared to panic, assaulted the police officer and fled. A foot chase ensued. The officer made repeated commands to Mr. Gaymon to stop and submit. Mr. Gaymon ignored the officer’s commands. Gaymon did not raise his arms or make his hands visible and repeatedly threatened to kill the officer, Esposito said in a statement shortly after the event. Mr. Gaymon then lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket.

Fearing for his life, the officer discharged his service weapon, hitting Mr. Gaymon once. The officer then immediately called for help and attempted to assist Mr. Gaymon. When emergency medical personnel arrived, Mr. Gaymon was taken to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 9 p.m. No weapon was recovered at the scene.

An autopsy confirmed Mr. Gaymon died as a result of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. An extensive effort to identify witnesses who may have seen all or part of the encounter between Mr. Gaymon and Officer Esposito was undertaken but no witnesses came forward.

Two experienced prosecutors presented the case to the grand jury. The 23 grand jurors had the option of initiating charges against Officer Esposito with regards to the death of Mr. Gaymon. Under New Jersey law, a police officer is permitted to use deadly force if he or she has a reasonable belief his life is threatened. The grand jury declined to bring any charges against the officer.

“Once again we want to express our condolences to the Gaymon family. This is a very sad and painful case but a grand jury – the voice of the community — has determined no crime was committed. We must respect that decision,’’ said Acting Prosecutor Murray.

The grand jury’s decision is certain to be controversial. Gay City News ran articles by Brooklyn freelancer Duncan Osbourne that suggested a pattern of entrapment in cases involving undercover arrests of gay men in Branch Brook Park.

One reply on “Grand Jury Declines to Indict Officer in Dean Gaymon Shooting”

  1. The cover up continues. And as usual, the prosecution uses the Grand Jury as a weapon to advance the prosecution interests — and in this case, the prosecution interest was to protect someone on their side, a police officer — and in doing so send a message to all police officers.

    The grand jury gets to hear ONLY what the prosecution wants them to hear. The other side of the story is not presented to the Grand Jury.

    Read the prosecution’s press release. If that is what they thought, then why did they take this to the Grand Jury? That story is clearly designed to show the police officer was a pure boy scout. The prosecution went in and presented that to the Grand Jury?! So what other conclusion could the Grand Jury draw? And the prosecution uses the cover of that Grand Jury conclusion as a weapon to try to undermine any information about this case to the contrary.

    Nearly a year later, this story has finally been made to seem clean and straight forward. In the weeks following the shooting, the authorities just kept changing the story again and again whenever the impossible-to-believe holes in it were pointed out. Whatever the truth of this shooting — whether Gaymon attacked or not — the authorities’ constantly changing the story screams of coverup.

    I remind, this officer had to be seriously drugged for many days after this incident. I know a shooting can be traumatic, but officers are well trained and have often considered the possibility of a shooting. It might be rough on them anyway, but it just is not conceivable that a mentally stable officer could need that kind of drugging for that long in the wake of a shooting. I know that I am not a trained police officer, I know I could nearly never kill anyone, not even hurt them, yet I also KNOW I would not need to be drugged afterward if I had to do it anyway.

    Since this happened, I have wondered if what was at the bottom of it was a mentally disturbed officer who accordingly was just far too quick on the trigger. I notice those details are not in the prosecution story presented above, nor many of the other details that came out last summer. For instance, one of those other details not in the story above is that the police officer had just gone running through the spot where Gaymon was, chasing that first suspect to arrest him, supposedly only a couple few minutes earlier (not 10-15 minutes or more), and arrested him out in the field just beyond where Gaymon was. Yet we are to believe that Gaymon didn’t know he was a cop and exposed himself to him?! From the story above, it looks like the Grand Jury was not told about that, and again the story of last summer is changed, suggesting it was more that a few minutes after the chase that the officer went back.

    The coverup continues.

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