The family of a prominent Atlanta CEO who was shot and killed during an undercover police crackdown of public sex in a New Jersey park is demanding a federal investigation, accusing the officer who said he fired in self defense of lying.
DeFarra "Dean'' Gaymon, 48, a married father of four, was in Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J., at 6 p.m. on July 16, when he encountered the plainclothes cop.
The 29-year-old male officer, who has not been identified, told the Essex County Prosecutor's office that he had gone to retrieve a pair of handcuffs he'd lost in the woods during a separate arrest in the sweep. When he bent down to pick up the cuffs, Gaymon approached and was "engaged in a sex act" alone, the officer told authorities. The officer said he placed Gaymon under arrest.
"Mr. Gaymon appeared to panic, assaulted the police officer and fled," said the statement by Prosecutor Robert Laurino.
Gaymon then "repeatedly threatened to kill the officer," according to Laurino, and then "lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket."
It was then the officer, "fearing for his life," shot Gaymon, who later died at a nearby hospital from a single gunshot wound to his abdomen.
Gaymon, president and CEO of The Atlanta Credit Union, had returned to New Jersey to attend his 30th class reunion at Montclair High School.
But Gaymon's family is disputing the officer's account of the shooting, saying in a statement released to Atlanta media organizations that Gaymon was a family man who was not prone to violence.
"We know that the police killed an innocent man, with no history of or disposition towards violence," the Gaymon family said in their statement, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
"Dean Gaymon was a nonviolent, nonaggressive and nonthreatening person his entire life," said the statement. " It would have been completely and totally against his nature to 'tussle' with a police officer, to resist authority, to assault a police officer...Words such as 'I am going to kill you' would not be uttered from him."
Repeated calls to Gaymon's sister, Kimberly Gaymon Armstrong, were not immediately returned.
Prosecutor's Office Says State Grand Jury Will Decide on Case
Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, told ABC News that the prosecutor did not have an immediate response to the Gaymon family statement.
"The investigation is continuing," said Carter. "Our next move would be to present the case to the grand jury."
Under New Jersey law, whenever a police officer is involved in a shooting a grand jury must hear the case. It is up to the grand jury to decide whether the shooting was justified, said Carter, who anticipates that the proceedings will take weeks.
Carter said that the police officer who shot Gaymon had been with the Essex County Sheriff's Office for eight years.
"It's a very large park, there are ball fields and cherry blossoms but there is a secluded area where there have been complaints about public sex, which is why there was an undercover operation to deter that activity," said Carter.
Carter said that there was no specific complaint made regarding Gaymon and that the police officer had been assigned to the area to deal with the "ongoing problem."
The Atlanta Credit Union, where Gaymon had served as the president and CEO for nearly four years, released a statement on the death saying that the staff and customers were "deeply saddened" by the loss.