More details have surfaced on what went down in the park the night DeFarra Gaymon, an Atlanta CEO, was fatally shot in a New Jersey park:
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.
“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. Mr. Laurino’s statement was based on an account given by the officer to investigators. Prosecutors said they knew of no one else who saw what happened, and they asked that any witnesses step forward.
The authorities said they did not interview the officer until Monday night, because he was being medicated and treated for trauma. He has not been approved to return to duty.
The shooting took place near where Bloomfield Avenue crosses Branch Brook Park, an area known for years as a place for sexual encounters among men, some of them prostitutes. Mr. Laurino said the sexual activity had prompted many complaints and many arrests, though he declined to say how many. Willie Velez, 66, a volunteer at a visitor center in the park, said that he often saw men going into the bushes or into cars in pairs, and that on Saturday and Sunday mornings he often found several used condoms in the parking lot.
When Robert Gram, 28, was growing up nearby, his mother warned him to steer clear of the male prostitutes strolling the park. “You still see them sometimes,” Mr. Gram said, though less often in recent years, with increased police patrols. Kevin Davis, 43, a landscaper, said he had come across people having sex in the bushes and had even seen people driving while naked.
“They got no shame in the game,” Mr. Davis said.
More info on Mr. Gaymon:
Mr. Gaymon was a successful businessman, the president and chief executive of Credit Union of Atlanta. On the Web site of the Credit Union Executives Society, Mr. Gaymon said his “ultimate career goals” were to lead a $150-million-plus credit union and provide “financial literacy programs that help employees and members become financially savvy.”
He added, “It’s just my passion to share information that can change a person’s financial life.”
Mr. Gaymon was one of the organizers of the reunion, which he drove up to attend. “All the people that knew him say you never met a kinder, nicer, more gentle person, and they’re stunned about what happened,” said John Joyce, the president of the Montclair High School Alumni Association.