Dash-cam video shows struggle before NJ officer shoots unarmed black man during traffic stop

TRENTON, New Jersey (WTVD) -- Police dash-cam video and 911 audio out of New Jersey shows the struggle that happened before a police officer shot and killed a 28-year-old unarmed man.

Maurice Gordon was shot dead on the side of the highway just days before and more than 1,000 miles away from where an officer used his knee to hold down George Floyd, ultimately killing him and sparking nation-wide protests.

The newly released audio and video from New Jersey were recorded May 22 and May 23.

Dash-camera video shows a New Jersey State Trooper, later identified as Sgt. Randall Wetzel, in a physical struggle with Gordon. Then six shots ring out and Gordon falls to the ground, fatally injured.

The chain of events leading up to Gordon's death began with his friend in Poughkeepsie, New York, calling 911 around 3:30 a.m. saying Gordon had just left his house "looking panicked." He told the dispatcher Gordon said "something about having a paranormal experience."

Law enforcement officers then had five separate run-ins with Gordon, including the fatal shooting on the Garden State Parkway, according to ABC News. Twice they found him in a disabled car and twice they pulled him over for speeding.

The final time Gordon was pulled over was May 23 around 6:40 a.m. Trooper Wetzel said he pulled over Gordon because he was driving at speeds over 100 miles per hour.

During the traffic stop, Gordon's car became disabled and would not start. Wetzel called for a tow truck and offered to allow Gordon to wait in the back of his patrol car.

Gordon is later seen on video leaving the back of the cruiser. He gets in and out of the back of the car multiple times.

"I keep telling you to do not get out of the car, but you keep hopping out," Wetzel told Gordon at one point, explaining that he was worried about him getting hit by a passing car.

"Why do you keep taking your seat belt off?" Wetzel asked Gordon. "Just keep it on in case someone hits us from behind."

At one point, Wetzel asked Gordon if he wanted to wear of face mask. When Gordon said he did, Wetzel got out of the vehicle and walked around to the rear passenger door to hand him one, according to the video footage.

But once he opened the door, Gordon unbuckled his seat belt and bolted from the vehicle. Wetzel can be heard repeatedly yelling at Gordon to get back into the car. A rear-facing camera inside the vehicle captured the two men struggling outside before Gordon appears to break free and attempts to open the driver's side door and get into the driver's seat of the patrol car.

Wetzel deployed pepper spray on Gordon and pulled him away from the vehicle. As they tussled at the rear of the patrol car six shots rang out. The footage shows Gordon falling to the ground.

Wetzel is seen in the video handcuffing Gordon and yelling "shots fired" into his mobile radio and asking for EMTs to come to the scene.

"Our team of independent investigators has been working hard to complete the initial investigation into the shooting death of Maurice Gordon as quickly as possible. That initial investigation is now complete," New Jersey State Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal said in a statement before releasing the videos and 911 tapes.

Grewal said the investigation is continuing and that the evidence will be presented to a grand jury.

Gordon's mother said he was a student at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie. He was studying chemistry.

"He's a person always into books and reading and studying and working as well," his mother told ABC News. ''He's always contributing to society."
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