The family of a New Jersey man whose killing by a policeman was recorded by a dashboard camera wants the Rev. Al Sharpton to steer clear of the case and let a local group take the lead. The founder of the National Awareness Alliance said Friday his New Jersey civil rights group is already organizing protests, engaging state law enforcement officials and helping the widow of Jerame Reid, the man shot by a police officer in late December, to get answers in the death.
“I would like to thank Rev. Sharpton for his support and for his demand that the New Jersey attorney general get involved in my husband’s death,” said Lawanda Reid, in a statement released by the National Awareness Alliance. She said the local group had been “involved before this case received national attention and I want National Awareness Alliance to continue to be the official organization fighting for justice for my husband and family. Reverend Sharpton’s involvement is not needed.” Walter Hudson, the NAA founder, said he intended to stick with the case “until justice is won.”
Sharpton’s group, the New York-based National Action Network, released a statement Thursday supporting the family’s request for the New Jersey attorney general to investigate the case, instead of local and county authorities. “We maintain our position that local officials should not handle incidents such as this,” the NAN statement said. The organization’s Atlantic City branch had been involved in the case and continues to monitor developments, the statement said. A representative for Sharpton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reid, a 36-year-old from Bridgeton, a small city in southern New Jersey, was shot to death Dec. 30 by city police Officer Braheme Days, who is also black, as he exited a friend’s vehicle with his hands raised, the Associated Press reported. Days had pulled over the Jaguar in which Reid was a passenger for running a stop sign. A two-minute video released this week shows Days using expletives to command Reid and the driver to remain still and show their hands before the fatal shot was fired. The video is stirring up anger over the latest in a recent series of black men being killed by police across the U.S.
But Reid, who spent about 13 years in prison for shooting at three state troopers when he was a teenager, already knew Days. The officer last year helped arrest him on charges for several crimes, including drug possession and obstruction, according to the AP’s report. Additionally, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office said authorities recovered a pistol from the car that Reid exited in the fatal incident. But there were still many unanswered questions, as there have been in most police-involved shootings where the victim is perceived by many as having been undeserving of lethal force.
Sharpton has had a hand in many of those cases -- from Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, both killed by civilians in Florida; to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to Eric Garner and Akai Gurley in New York -- often embedding himself with the families of the deceased victims of alleged police brutality. Sharpton has also faced sharp backlash recently following the assassination of two New York City police officers by a mentally ill man who suggested the murders were motivated by nationwide protests that Sharpton and others supported.