Man sues after officers allegedly shot, paralyzed him while he retrieved ice tea from car
A Black man who was allegedly shot and paralyzed by plainclothes officers last month is suing the city of Trenton and officers with the city’s police department.
The lawsuit, announced Thursday, was filed in Mercer County on behalf of Jajuan Henderson by his mother, her legal team and the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, according to a video of the press conference shared by NJ.com.
Richard Smith, the president of the NAACP state chapter, called it “another needless police shooting that left a 29-year-old Black man paralyzed from the chest down.”
Henderson’s mother, Gia Henderson, said she doesn’t know if her son was paralyzed for life or not.
“My heart almost broke and I was devastated, I thought Jajuan was going to die,” she said. “I’m here to get justice for my son.”
Just after midnight on Feb. 12, Henderson went to retrieve iced tea from a car parked outside a home he was visiting, according to the NAACP. He was sitting in the vehicle when a car pulled next to him, and a group of men in plainclothes allegedly jumped out of the vehicle and began yelling at him.
Henderson picked up his phone to call for support but the men smashed the driver’s side window and shot him in the neck, Smith alleged.
“This group of men appearing as any other group of dangerous criminals from a horror movie turned out to be from the Trenton Police Department,” Smith said.
Henderson was shot four times in the neck and back and left paralyzed from the waist down. He also had four charges of aggravated assault filed against him, but those were later dropped, according to NJ.com.
The Hill has reached out to the Trenton Police Department. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office told NJ.com an investigation into the incident is being handled by neighboring Union County.
Gregg Zeff, an attorney representing Henderson’s mother, said they were not announcing the officer’s names because they have not identified them yet.
A Mercer County detective told NJ.com that officers were attempting a motor vehicle stop and Henderson was uncooperative, refused to provide identification and did not roll the window down.
An officer smashed a window open and Henderson attempted to drive away, crashing into a vehicle behind him, the detective said.
Larry Ham, the chair of the People’s Organization for Progress, said police “can’t be acting in secret.”
“We have some very undemocratic practices going on,” he said at the press conference. “Imagine being paralyzed.”
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