BRIDGETON — A man killed by police Tuesday night had a violent history with law enforcement that included shooting at State Police troopers as a teenager, Superior Court records and media reports show.
Jerame C. Reid, then called Jerome Reid, was 15 when he fired three rounds at a trio of state troopers in Atlantic County on March 31, 1994, according to court records and reports in The Press of Atlantic City.
Reid was shot in the hand during the exchange of gunfire near his then-home in Buena Vista Township. He was indicted in August 1994 and eventually sentenced to 15 years in state prison on a charge of criminal attempted homicide, the records show. The sentence carried a five-year period of parole ineligibility.
Reid, 36, of Seabrook in Upper Deerfield Township, died after being shot about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday by two Bridgeton police officers following a motor vehicle stop in a residential area near South Avenue and Henry Street. Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Wednesday a handgun was “revealed” during the stop.
Webb-McRae also said Wednesday that her office and State Police are investigating the use of deadly force by Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley. The investigation is required under guidelines set by the state Attorney General’s Office. Days and Worley are both on administrative leave pending the findings of the investigation.
Webb-McRae was unavailable for comment Friday. First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro said authorities are not releasing additional information about the shooting.
Authorities said there is no timetable for when the use-of-deadly-force investigation will conclude.
Police Chief Mark Ott and the Police Department’s executive officer, Capt. Michael Gaimari, on Friday came out in support of Days and Worley, members of one of two Tactical Response Teams deployed in high-crime areas in the city. The support followed what Ott and Gaimari said were “media reports casting disparaging remarks” on the department and Days and Worley in connection with Reid’s shooting.
Gaimari said Reid’s fatal shooting could be linked to Police Department efforts to get illegal handguns — the presence of which has increased tenfold in recent years — off city streets.
Days was also one of two officers shot at while investigating a burglary on North Street in August.
“When you are trying to combat the increased number of weapons on the street with a proactive effort to reduce gun violence, it is unfortunately creating a recipe for a tragic incident such as what occurred a few days ago,” Gaimari said. “Every car stop or citizen contact officers perform could result in them encountering a subject with a weapon, specifically a handgun, and that increases in the areas of the city with increased gun activity.
“But it remains a necessary priority to keep innocent citizens and residents safe, and we will continue in those efforts,” he said. “It is our duty and responsibility to do so.”
Ott and Gaimari said they welcome any governmental review of the Police Department’s “practices, procedures and protocols in dealing with such incidents, or crime in general.” They also said they would “gladly” participate in any citizen or community forum, the creation of which was suggested by Mayor Albert Kelly.
“I have been a Bridgeton police officer for more than 20 years, and I am proud of the service the Police Department has provided to the residents of the city,” Ott said.
‘We just want answers’
Reid’s wife of six years, Lawanda, declined comment in an email to the Press.
However, in a statement released Friday by her attorney, Conrad Benedetto of Philadelphia, Lawanda Reid said, “We just want answers why this happened. No one deserves to die like that.”
Benedetto said in an interview with The Press that “nobody has been giving (Lawanda Reid) answers.”
He said there are issues as to whether Reid was shot inside or outside the vehicle. Benedetto also said an investigation by his law firm “reveals that Mr. Reid was complying with all instructions of the officers.”
An autopsy was scheduled for Reid on Wednesday. Benedetto said he asked authorities on Friday for the results of that autopsy.
Benedetto said Reid’s body was to undergo another autopsy Friday night. This autopsy was requested by Reid’s family and was to be performed independently of any government agency, he said.
Reid was a passenger in the car that was stopped at South Avenue and Henry Street on Tuesday night. The statement issued by Benedetto lists the driver of the car as Leroy Tutt. No further information was available regarding Tutt.
History with police
In 1994, authorities went to Reid’s home on warrants and to question him about possession of a stolen handgun.
Press reports say officers surrounded the house and called on the juvenile to surrender. The reports said Reid then ran out the back door, firing three rounds from a .38-caliber handgun.
A State Police trooper fired his shotgun once, according to the news reports, and another trooper fired his service weapon three times.
Reid stopped his flight from the scene, turned and aimed his handgun at one of the troopers. The trooper fired again, striking Reid in the hand.
A massive manhunt ensued for hours before Reid surrendered.
Three months later, Reid was one of three youths who escaped from the Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center in Egg Harbor City, according to Press reports. Reid was apprehended a week later in Hammonton by one of the troopers upon whom he fired.
Reid was paroled March 5, 2007, in the state trooper case, state Department of Corrections’ records show. He went missing from parole July 16 of that year. He was eventually arrested Sept. 14, 2007, and returned to custody for violating parole. He maxed out Feb. 10, 2008.
Police records also show Reid was arrested in June 2009 on two counts of contempt linked to domestic dispute allegations. Reid was taken to the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton on $3,500 bail.
Meanwhile, Reid, in a still-active lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, alleges two county jail corrections officers assaulted him inside his cell following a transfer to a different holding cell Oct. 15, 2009.
Reid alleges in the lawsuit that the corrections officers beat him in his cell, sprayed him in the face with mace and doused him with cold water. Reid was taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden for treatment of his injuries, the lawsuit states. Reid initially told nurses at the hospital he was beaten by fellow inmates.
Jail officials have denied the allegations.
Reid’s shooting Tuesday prompted local authorities to take precautions — such as beefing up patrols — in case the incident prompted violence, Gaimari said.
“We would be remiss if we didn’t,” Gaimari said. “So far, from what we know, there haven’t been any incidents to report.”
The killings of black people by white police officers in the United States last year prompted a wave of protests still reverberating. Reid is black, as is Days, who joined the Police Department in 2012.
Gaimari said he believes city residents are “waiting to see the outcome of the investigation and understand the crime trend in Bridgeton and the needs to actively enforce the gun laws.”
“We’ve received support from the city administration and most of the public that we’ve come in contact with,” he said.
“I am extremely grateful for the patience and restraint shown by the citizens of Bridgeton as the Prosecutor’s Office continues its investigation,” Ott said. “We are optimistic that additional information will be made available when the investigation is complete.”
Reid’s fatal shooting marked the end of a deadly year in Cumberland County.
There were 16 killings in the county in 2014. There were four slayings in all of 2013.
Staff Writers Lynda Cohen and Christie Rotondo contributed to this report.
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