Family Seeks Answers for Unarmed Black Man Shot Dead by Phil Murphy’s New Jersey State Trooper


BASS RIVER, NJ  – For Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan, justice for George Floyd also means justice for Maurice Gordon, 28, of Poughkeepsie, New York.   Gordon was stopped by the New Jersey State Police on May 23rd, early in the morning.   His mother, Racquel Barrett claims Maurice, an UberEats driver was waiting with a white police officer on the side of the Parkway for a tow truck to come.  What happened after that is unknown, except that Gorden lay dead from police gunfire.

According to Governor Phil Murphy,  Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is conducting an investigation of the fatal shooting involving of Gordon that occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. on the Garden State Parkway in Bass River. The investigation is being conducted by the Integrity Bureau within the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability and the New Jersey State Police Major Crime Bureau.   This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a law enacted in January 2019, Senate Bill 1036, which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

Now, Gordon’s family is saying New Jersey isn’t giving them any information about how or why he was shot dead.  Some details were given to the family. He was stopped for a traffic violation and searched for weapons.  His attorney claims none were found by police.

William Wagstaff, III, the attorney representing Gordon’s family said, “There’s so much wrong with the way police people of color, and this is an example of that. You have a young man who had his whole life ahead of him who ended up dead, presumably, on the side of the Garden State Parkway for what should have been a routine traffic stop.”

“Mr. Gordon did not want to remain in his vehicle so he was invited by the trooper to sit in the back of the trooper’s vehicle,” Wagstaff said in an interview. “Once in the back of the trooper’s vehicle he was made to sit there for more than 30 minutes without any information being provided, not being issued a ticket, and there was no indication he was under arrest.”

Gordon, according to his attorney tried to exit the vehicle, an altercation ensued and he was shot multiple times by the officer.

“When an unarmed Black man gets pulled over for a traffic stop by a white police officer in New Jersey, one of the possible outcomes should not be his death,” Wagstaff said.  “We cannot allow the continued sacrifice of the lives of black people at the hands of police officers and hope that it will foment an evolution towards justice and equality that should be the heritage of all Americans.”

Governor Murphy said he was unable to respond to questions from the media about the fatal shooting.  Since the State Police are essentially his police officers, he’s also kept in the dark on the investigation under laws aimed at keeping internal and political influence out of officer involved shootings.

“This is an ongoing investigation and the very good news, working with a whole range of communities including law enforcement, faith communities, community activists and our legislators,” Murphy said. “I signed a law for this very potential, that there’s an independent process that is underway, and that’s the way it should be. Until that process surfaces in some form or fashion, I have no visibility into it, nor should I, and that’s the way it should be. So I don’t think we’ve got a whole lot to report on it.”


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