Alex Blaze

Police kill man, accuse him of cruising

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 22, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics

In case the problem with getting generally homophobic men who are armed to the teeth who aren't meaningfully accountable toNEWARK2-popup.jpg the law to go and arrest men cruising in parks wasn't obvious enough, here's a story that shows what can happen when everyone in that needlessly tense situation panics. I wonder how many stories like this we don't hear about?

Atlanta-based CEO DeFarra Gaymon was in New Jersey for his high school reunion, when he got caught in a cruising sting and a cop killed him. Here's the Times reporting what the cop's side of the story. I wouldn't put too much stock in it, since the only other witness to the incident is dead and the cop seems well-trained in the language he needs to put forward to justify his actions.

The officer and his partner were patrolling the park in plain clothes, part of an operation that has been going on for years, said Mr. Laurino, the prosecutor.

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.

More after the jump.

"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.

An unarmed man who asked a police officer to have sex (if that's what Gaymon did, and there's no real proof) isn't a reason for the officer to fear for his life, but isn't it cute that that's exactly what he needed to have felt in order to be allowed to shoot Gaymon and that's exactly what he's saying?

And what kind of police officer can't handcuff an unarmed CEO? Why was the officer in plainclothes and armed and conducting a sting for a misdemeanor in the first place? Also, it seems strange to me that someone could get chased by police and arrested, but no one else would notice and people would go on having sex in public just a minute later in the exact spot where the police were.

He says he chased Gaymon because he was "engaged in a sex act" and then propositioned the officer, but the former is the most common lie police officers tell in cruising stings and the latter isn't a crime. If he actually was performing a sex act, the punishment is a fine and defendants who fight the charge from the beginning often get off the hook because the officers have no proof anyways.

This is part of the problem with these cruising stings, and it's not an unforeseeable problem, a bad apple, or a one-off freak incident. Police are armed for a reason and we have too many of them going around with too little accountability or training, which is just a recipe for disaster. Using that sort of violence to arrest (and not stop, since we know that these stings just plain don't work to actually stop public sex) some guys looking to get off is like killing a fly with a machine gun.

The ACLU and Garden State Equality are asking for a federal state [corrected] investigation, and this absolutely should be taken out of the hands of local law enforcement. Police cannot police themselves, and they're already circling the wagons around this officer. They have many reasons to sweep this under the rug, but the public's interest is best served by truth and accountability.

Local clergy are talking to the police in private and then going to the media:

"We came to ask questions and get answers for our community," said the Rev. Lori Williams, an Orange pastor who is president of United Clergy. "We use the park. We have children who use the park."

I'd be worried too if I had children who use that park. Apparently cops shoot people there.

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I commented about this at Joe My God. A previous job as Records Manager for a City Government lead to me to read over a few police reports related to these sex stings. While this has gone way beyond that, let me disect a few things here.

First, the officer says Gaymon approached WHILE performing a sex act. Interesting description.

Later, the officer describes Gaymon as simultaneously lunging for him, trying to disarm him, and putting his hand in his pocket. I don't know about you, but if I'm lunging for an armed man in an effort to disarm him, I'm going to have both my hands free.

But the language in the police report has all the hallmarks of sting reports I used to read. The officers had pretty much a template of how they would describe the encounter. There are/were elements required to get a conviction, so the officers ALWAYS made sure all those elements were described in their reports. They really did always look pretty much like cut and paste jobs (or every gay man cruising for park sex said and did exactly the same thing...take your pick).

We see that same thing here. The officer has provided very precise language describing Gaymon's behavior, and that language is clearly designed to make this a justifiable shooting. And, oh by the way, the police officer didn't give his statement until three days later. If things had gone the other way, no one else would have been granted three days to "think it over."

I don't disagree with a word of this point but it is always, always, always a bad idea to have sex in a public place. Particularly if you are a "CEO", why not hook up via Craigslist and get a room? Just sayin'.

The story I read said the officer was so distraught over the shooting he had to sedated, and couldn't give his statement for three days. Uh huh, yeah. I thought these were trained professionals, and this is, unfortunately part of job.

Wanna bet that during that three hold he talked to a lawyer and a police union representative? Inquiring minds want to know.

"I thought I just tasered him!"

Regan DuCasse | July 22, 2010 4:05 PM

OMG...what a fucking stupid tragedy!
Man, I'm so sick of bullying cops, cops that can't handle their anger/prejudice/weapons....and gee, why is it that this shit only happens around young black/or gay males?

So OVER this shit!

He approached WHILE engaged in a sex act? I can't wrap my head around that one. And it's one of the lesser problems with his statement. How do homophobes manage to jump from calling gays wimpy effeminates, to imagining them as terrifying predators?

Regan DuCasse | July 22, 2010 4:11 PM

I bet I know what happened. I bet they didn't EFFECTIVELY identify themselves so that Mr. Gamon could know who these officers were.
He most likely was afraid they were bashers and tried get away or defend himself.
I don't think he tried to lunge for weapon. I think it escalated to where being identified PROPERLY was already lost.
Once he was being restrained (most likely painfully so that a struggle was inevitable), he was shot because he wasn't compliant enough to these cops who made this young man fear for HIS life.
After all, he was confronted by two ARMED men, anyone would be scared.
And I think these cops get off putting the fright in men they know are gay.
Wherever they happen to be.

Any bets?

Let's face it: We don't know exactly what really happened, except that the cop shot an uppity faggot who wasn't cooperating the way he wanted, and maybe even was standing up for himself and giving the cop some element of static. All this "he lunged for my gun" crap is designed to keep the cop from being charged with murder --- it's probably a balls-out lie, and my bet is that, in reality, the only person who reached for the cop's weapon was the cop himself.

Footnote: The element of the cop's story about Gaymon lunging at him and putting his hand in his pocket at the same time, which sounds so questionable and unreal, was included in the story so that the officer can claim that he thought Gaymon might be reaching into his pocket for a weapon, such as a knife or a gun. The story is transparently crafted with multiple legal defenses in mind, and my bet is that, except for the shooting itself, the rest of the story is probably a total fabrication.

I got the same impression AJ, about the inference that his hand was in his pocket was reaching for a weapon. So the cops was really covering his bases by claiming he was being physically attacked via the lunging, and was being threatened because the suspect was reaching for a gun.

It's been a long time since my experiences along this line, but I can guarantee, nobody would behave that way with someone who'd identified himself as a cop (preaching to the choir, I know). A serious cross-examiner really could shoot this testimony full of holes if he or she wanted to. This BS hasn't evolved into something flawless, it's only become more practiced.

A solution? Legalize sex work. It wouldn't eliminate all public sex, but there would be more control over where, how, how safe and the impact on neighboring communities. Except that no one would ever let that happen. No one would want it in their neighborhood, etc, so the consequence is to leave it to happen in the riskiest areas, prone to the riskiest and most desperate behaviours, vulnerable to unstable people, with little means to defend oneself.

Society doesn't really want a solution... it only wants opportunities to be "morally superior."

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.

How did he arrest the man if he lost his handcuffs? And if he arrested the man, his handcuffs would have been on the guy he arrested. They would have been replaced when he turned the suspect over for transport. So when he went back onto patrol, he would have handcuffs.

Assumedly, the handcuffs were the traditional metal variety as opposed to the plastic zip ties. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth going to look for them since the plastic ones aren't worth anything and aren't specialized police equipment. It can certainly be checked what kind they were using on that operation. But nowadays when police are expecting to make multiple arrests, they carry the plastic zip ties because they're lightweight and inexpensive, and you don't have to keep track of what became of them.

I haven't been trained as a cop, but it seems like an awfully bad idea to go off in the woods in the dark by yourself with your head down scowering the ground looking for something, especially when you believe there are criminals all around you. It's hard to believe that's proper procedure.

Basically, the story doesn't add up.

Not quite related, but exemplary of the attitude authorities often have. Vancouver cop shoves disabled woman who crosses his path:

and why do we still let cops march in pride parades when they gun us down just looking for a bit of harmless pleasure among other consenting participants.

oh yeah, that's right, because they're irrelevant and we are all sex outlaws.

if a cop ever tried to arrest me while i was cruising i would pepper spray the fool. never leave home without it.

Oh yes, I also wanted to comment on the tragedy of a self-hating homosexual who instead of coming out and living an authentic life, got married to a woman and had four children. Perhaps if he didn't have to wait until he was out of town and away from his family to have the sex he really wanted, he wouldn't have found himself in the park that night.

I will quickly add that having gone there, he certainly didn't deserve to be shot and killed. But I think he would have been happier if he didn't have to hide who he was.

OK, let's play Devil's Advocate for a moment. What IF the cop's actually telling the truth? First - the officer & his PARTNER arrest someone. The partner's cuffs are on the first guy and the officer in question goes back to get his while his partner remains behind with the first person. The officer in question is actually bent over to search for/pick up his cuffs. A man approaches in the "wooded area" and "engaged in a sexual act at the time" - could be as simple as stroking a hard-on as an invitation to play. He's in a known cruising area and he asks the plainclothes officer if he does want to play. The officer identifies himself. The man panics --after all, he's married, a CEO and believes he has lots to lose if he's arrested. Local folks know it's a fine if he's caught, but even a fine with the publicity can be terrifying to someone in his position. He pushes the cop and turns to run. The cop chases him while the guy is screaming at him to stay away. Now we're at the lake - okay, here's where even a Devil's Advocate has to ask: Why would a scared man shove his hand into his pocket while lunging at someone? In fact, it's hard to "lunge" while your hand is in your pocket. (I can envision a lunge and struggle near the lake with a panicked, non-thinking, struggling man who's trying to escape an officer and reaching for his gun.)
I don't trust cops. Too much in my life has forced me to that. I've seen the aftermaths of lying, homophobic S.O.B's. On the other hand, I've been gay my whole life too and I've also seen way too much where the cops WERE actually in the right too. Our community isn't filled with all saints or with all rationally thinking people at all times. Just maybe the truth is somewhere in between the police report, this blog, and an outraged community's ire. (BTW Scott, it DOESN'T only happen around "young black or gay males". You may notice that more because you're part of those communities, but it most definitely isn't the only place it happens. Someday, I may tell you the story of a young white very straight male who was nearly beaten to death by some cops after a minor traffic incident.)