BRIDGETON — Protesters on Tuesday demanded City Council condemn the fatal shooting of a Millville man by local police officers last month.
City Council rejected the proposal, with members saying the shooting remains under investigation.
But that did not satisfy Walter Hudson, founder of the New Jersey-based National Awareness Alliance, which is organizing protests of Jerame C. Reid’s shooting. Hudson told Mayor Albert Kelly that Reid died on Kelly’s “watch” as mayor.
“Blood is on your hands,” Hudson told Kelly.
City Council President Jack Surrency said City Council would not consider a resolution condemning Reid’s shooting just because Hudson requested such action. Hudson was not happy with that response, and asked several times for the action to occur.
Surrency, because of the number of people, about 40, attending the meeting, set a three-minute limit on those addressing City Council. Hudson’s statements exceeded that limit, and Hudson repeatedly ignored Surrency’s instructions that his three minutes were up.
Rachel Somers, who said she is Reid’s cousin, tearfully blamed the city and police officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley for Reid’s death.
“My cousin is no longer here,” Somers said. “My cousin waited 36 years to be a father. Those officers took that privilege away.”
Tension over Reid’s death began during the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of City Council’s meeting. After people attending the meeting recited the line, “with liberty and justice for all,” someone shouted, “and justice for Jerame Reid.”
Later in the meeting, Kelly said that while he offered his condolences to Reid’s family, it is not proper or legal to “involve myself or my office in any active police investigation.”
“I cannot get involved,” Kelly said. “I have faith and support in the Bridgeton Police Department. I ask that the community not rush to judgment, but allow the facts of the investigation to reveal themselves in the course of the investigation.
“These are complex issues,” he continued, talking over calls of “cover up” from the protesters. “I want the facts to lead to the ultimate truth. I am sure the facts will speak for themselves.”
In a statement released before the meeting, officials with the National Awareness Alliance said they were unhappy with the lack of information released about the shooting. They also voiced displeasure with how the city is dealing with Braheme Days and Roger Worley, the officers who fired on Reid.
Days and Worley are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting.
“We want answers for the family,” Saquion Gullen, the alliance’s crisis coordinator, said in the statement. “It is time for elected officials to explain what, if anything, is being done to reveal what happened.”
Hudson said in the statement that putting Days and Worley on paid administrative leave is like giving the officers “an extra paid vacation.”
“That is unacceptable under the circumstances,” he said.
Hudson is a Penns Grove, Salem County, resident and a member of the Penns Grove-Carneys Point school board. He is currently under indictment for allegedly assaulting a Penns Grove police officer during a fight at a middle school last year.
Reid, 36, of Millville, was shot and killed during a traffic stop at South Avenue and Henry Street the evening of Dec. 30. Authorities said a handgun was “revealed” and “recovered” during the stop.
At some point during the stop, Days and Worley discharged their service weapons. Authorities have yet to comment about what prompted the motor vehicle stop, or why Days and Worley opened fire.
Reid was a passenger in the car driven by Long Branch resident Leroy Tutt. No charges have been lodged against Tutt.
About 100 people marched through city streets the evening of Jan. 7 to protest Reid’s shooting.
On Tuesday, people started gathering in the parking lot of the Police Department-Municipal Court complex on Fayette Street, where City Council meets, at about 6 p.m.
There were about a dozen protesters, including some who held signs in support of Reid. Some of the protestors shouted, “No justice, no peace.”
The parking lot was illuminated with portable spotlights set up by the city. Members of the Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office were stationed on a sidewalk between the parking lot and the complex building.
Security was heavy inside the building.
Orange cones limited where the public could go as they entered the building. Persons heading to the meeting room went through metal detectors and had their belongings searched by local police and sheriff’s officers.
At about 4:30 p.m., authorities searched the meeting room, the hallway outside the meeting room and restrooms with the help of a K-9.
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