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|ACLU, N.J. gay rights group call for investigation of shooting of Atlanta man|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|July 27, 2010 10:58|
The ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality, the leading LGBT advocacy organization in New Jersey, as well as religious and civic leaders are calling for a thorough investigation of an Atlanta man shot and killed by an undercover police officer in a well-known gay Newark cruising park.
DeFarra “Dean” Gaymon was shot and killed in Branch Park in Essex County on July 16 by an undercover officer who was part of a sting operation in the park seeking out men having sex in the park.
Also, the DeKalb County spokesperson and friend of Gaymon who spoke out against the shooting last week, calling it “murder,” resigned Monday according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The undercover officer has been identified as Edward Esposito, 29, who was recently awarded a medal of merit along with three other officers for trying to break up a carjacking, according to the Star-Ledger.
Garden State Equality, in making its request for a transparent investigation, said it does not matter what the sexual orientation of the victim is, but wants information on what exactly police were doing in the park and more information on the park stings.
"We make no assumption as to the sexual orientation of the victim. Nor do we condone lewdness, but any sting operation targeting gay men or LGBT people specifically, or anyone perceived as such, is unconscionable — and as we strongly believe, illegal," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality in a letter to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino, according to the Star-Ledger.
Garden State Equality is also asking for information on approximately 200 arrests police have made in the park since 2005 for public sex.
Gaymon, who was married with four children, was CEO of the Credit Union of Atlanta and was in New Jersey for his high school’s 30th reunion.
According to Laurino, the prosecutor in Essex County, police were in the park conducting a sting operation when undercover officer Esposito went back into the park to retrieve his handcuffs after he discovered he lost them during a prior arrest.
Espisito said Gaymon, who was masturbating at the time, came up to him. When the officer showed his badge, Gaymon allegedly resisted arrest, threatened the officer and the two fought. The officer shot Gaymon in the stomach and he died hours later in a hospital.
In Atlanta, DeKalb County spokesperson Sheila Edwards denounced the shooting in a letter to the AJC on July 21, calling the shooting “murder.” Edwards, who reported directly to DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, resigned on Monday and is “contemplating a return to the private sector,” according to the AJC.
Gaymon's family released a statement after the shooting that said, “We know that the police killed an innocent man, with no history of or disposition towards violence.”
In the meantime, a New York Times reporter is reportedly in Atlanta this week seeking out information on Gaymon and people who may have known him, according to people who work in Midtown.
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