Holding signs and huddled together in groups of four, close to 100 demonstrators poured into the streets of Bridgeton on Wednesday night to protest the police killing of Jerame C. Reid, who was fatally shot by two officers during a Dec. 30 traffic stop.
They filled the frigid air with chants of “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” in a scene similar to recent nationwide protests over police killings. The demonstrators met at 6 p.m. where the shooting occurred — near South Avenue and Henry Street — and from there marched 0.7 miles to the Cumberland County Courthouse. The demonstration lasted just under an hour.
“For the short term, we want to handle this case. We want to make sure justice is served,” said Saquion Gullett, crisis coordinator for the National Awareness Alliance, which organized the event. “The long-term goal is we want to bring about some type of change.”
Before the march, demonstrators gathered around a makeshift memorial of balloons, candles and stuffed animals. There, Reid’s wife of six years, Lawanda, addressed the group.
“I’m here because I want justice for my husband,” Lawanda Reid said. “So I will walk with you all, talk with you all, I’m going to ride with you all because my husband would want me to.”
Reid was followed by Mayor Albert Kelly, who led the group in prayer.
“As a city we will get through this,” Kelly said after. “As I have said before, I believe in the law enforcement, and I believe justice will be served.”
The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating whether Officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley were justified in using deadly force. Both fired their service weapons and were put on administrative leave. The Prosecutor’s Office said during the course of the stop a handgun was revealed and later recovered.
Gullett said he spoke with witnesses to Reid’s death and was told there is a video that “is a little bit more telling” than a previous one that surfaced. However, Gullet said he has yet to see the video.
Reid, 36, of Millville, had a pending federal lawsuit against the Cumberland County jail alleging excessive force in 2009. The suit states he was punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed in his cell and was taken to an emergency room for treatment of broken ribs, a fractured orbital bone and other injuries. Jail officials have denied the allegations.
Superior Court records and media reports also show Reid had a violent history with law enforcement. Reid, then called Jerome Reid, was 15 when he fired three rounds at three state troopers March 31, 1994, near his then-home in Buena Vista Township. He was sentenced to 15 years in state prison on a charge of criminal attempted homicide.
Reid was paroled in the state trooper case March 5, 2007, state Department of Corrections’records show. He went missing from parole July 16 of that year and was was eventually arrested Sept. 14, 2007. He returned to custody for violating parole and maxed out Feb. 10, 2008.
Gullett downplayed Reid’s criminal record, saying he didn’t think the officers knew about it.
“I feel like that’s Monday morning quarterbacking when you bring up someone’s past to try to vilify him,” Gullett said.
Raymond Glenn, 42, of Bridgeton, made a sign and marched in the demonstration. He said he knew Reid for five years and talked to him two hours before he was killed.
“He had a very nice personality,” Glenn said. “He didn’t deserve this, just like anyone who is killed. Whether it’s a cop or a reckless citizen, nobody deserves to get killed in cold blood.”
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