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|DeKalb spokesperson defends Atlanta man shot in New Jersey gay cruising park|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|July 22, 2010 13:23|
The CEO for the Credit Union of Atlanta who was shot and killed by an undercover police officer in a known gay cruising spot in New Jersey on July 16 is being defended by DeKalb County’s chief communications officer.
In a letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, Shelia Edwards, spokesperson for CEO Burrell Ellis, said DeFarra “Dean” Gaymon was “murdered.” No criminal charges have been filed yet in the case. Edwards also said she has volunteered to represent Gaymon’s family.
“Dean Gaymon was a college classmate and a close personal friend of over 30 years," Edwards wrote to the AJC. "His family has been a part of my family since the 80s. We are all traumatized by [his] murder.”
Gaymon, of Suwanee, was married and the father of four.
But Edwards' willingness to speak out so publicly against the New Jersey police has DeKalb police officers concerned, according to the AJC. The newspaper reports:
"Officers, fearful of losing their jobs because of Edwards’ high position in the government and unwilling to be identified, told the AJC it was a conflict on interest for the communications chief to serve as the family’s spokeswoman.
“Whose side is she on? Does she hate police?” one officer asked. “It’s going to be hard for us to trust that she is objective and can speak about investigations.”
Essex County, New Jersey, law enforcement officials said an undercover detective shot and killed Gaymon after Gaymon allegedly attacked the officer. Essex County officials said Gaymon also allegedly engaged in public sex and tried to solicit sex from the undercover detective.
The incident took place in Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J., a known gay cruising site. Gaymon allegedly stopped at the park on his way to his 30th high school reunion. Gaymon’s family, through Edwards, denied the charges that Gaymon was in the park seeking sex, according the AJC report.
The New York Times reported on the incident July 20, giving details of what New Jersey prosecutors said occurred:
“Around 6 p.m., after chasing down a man and arresting him, the officer realized he had lost his handcuffs in the pursuit and went back into the woods, alone, to retrieve them, the prosecutor said.
“The plainclothes officer was bending down to retrieve his handcuffs,” Mr. Laurino said, “when he was approached by Mr. Gaymon, who was engaged in a sexual act at the time.” Words were exchanged that the prosecutor said “would lead one to believe that” Mr. Gaymon was propositioning the officer.
“The officer pulled out his badge, identified himself as a police officer and informed Mr. Gaymon that he was under arrest,” Mr. Laurino said. Then, he said, Mr. Gaymon shoved the officer to the ground and ran, ignored the officer’s demands to stop, and repeatedly threatened to kill the officer if he approached. The officer cornered Mr. Gaymon beside a pond and tried to handcuff him, Mr. Laurino said, but again Mr. Gaymon resisted.
“Mr. Gaymon reached into his pocket and lunged at the officer in an attempt to disarm the officer,” Mr. Laurino said. The officer, “fearing for his life,” the prosecutor said, shot Mr. Gaymon once, and he died at the hospital three hours later.
The Credit Union of Atlanta states on its website:
“Credit Union of Atlanta extends condolences to the family of DeFarra ‘Dean’ Gaymon who passed away suddenly July 16, 2010. We are deeply saddened at the loss of Mr. Gaymon and offer our most sincere sympathy to the Gaymon family.”
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