LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Bridgeton Police Shooting Raises Questions

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

It started out innocently enough.

Two officers — one black, one white — pull over two black men in a Jaguar for going through a stop sign.

Fifteen seconds later things get tense when the black officer sees a gun in the glove compartment.

Thirty seconds go by and then the officer opens fire.

The passenger had gotten out of the car, apparently with his hands up and was shot six times.

He was Jerame Reid, 36, of Upper Deerfield Township, who went to prison as a teenager for shooting at three State Troopers.

Bridgeton, population 25,000, is one of the southernmost towns in the state.

There’s a fading memorial where the shooting happened Dec. 30, and the town is still concerned.

“I think there’s no reason for that, you know. No matter, I guess these streets are dangerous but I don’t think they had any reason to shoot him like they did,” said Julio Rodriguez.

“I think that the guy gave himself up and why shoot him,” said Elvis McArthur.

“Certain police did have it out for him and like you said he had to pass and they had his number. And they just wanted to get their revenge I guess,” said Charles Pippet.

On Wednesday of this week, local activists called on the state attorney general to take over the case from the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.

That office is not commenting on the case.

Neither is the Bridgeton Police Department.

The two officers are on paid leave.

Late this afternoon, Bridgeton’s mayor and the state NAACP appealed for calm and patience.

{bite}”I can not tell you how to think. Neither will I try to tell you how to think. We are all logical, well thinking, clear minded individuals. I like to think that and so I will leave it up to you to judge. But I ask you as a mayor of the great city of Bridgeton, that we walk united,” said Mayor Albert Kelly.

“You have shown great restraint as we wait for the results of the investigation. Unlike other places that have been put under the national spotlight, you have set the example,” said NAACP State Conference President Richard Smith.

So add New Jersey to the epidemic of police shootings of black men. Only in this one, there was a gun present. And the victim had served time for shooting at State Troopers. And as a law enforcement source reminded us today, every one of these incidents is different.