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Atlanta CEO DeFarra Gaymon Killed by Police

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By Jason Beahm on July 20, 2010 2:22 PM

An Atlanta CEO was shot and killed by an Essex County Sheriff's undercover police officer in New Jersey last Friday night. DeFarra Gaymon, 48, was in Newark, New Jersey for a 30 year class reunion. Gaymon, known by his friends as "Dean," was the organizer of the event but never made it to the Crowne Plaza Hotel where it was being held. Gaymon was married with four children and was the President and CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta.

The New Jersey police and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office are now investigating. At this time it is believed that the undercover police officer gave a statement to investigators that has not been released, but will be shortly. Investigators say that the officer was dispatched around 6 p.m. regarding alleged sexual activity in public near Branch Brook Park, an area known as a meeting point for sexual encounters. DeFarra Gaymon was unarmed at the time of the shooting but allegedly "tussled" with the detective who was attempting to arrest him, The Star-Ledger reports. By 9 p.m. Gaymon was pronounced dead at University Hospital in Newark.

It is only occasionally appropriate for police to use deadly force on an unarmed suspect. According to The Model Penal Code, officers should not use deadly force unless the action will not endanger innocent bystanders, the suspect used deadly force in committing the crime, or the officers believe a delay in arrest may result in injury or death to other people. In Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court ruled that it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment for police officers to use deadly force to stop nonviolent, unarmed, fleeing felony suspects. 

The shooting comes amid a recent string of shootings by police in Newark. DeFarra Gaymon's death marked the fifth firearm discharge in a month and the ninth of the year. Police have shot six suspects fatally in 2010, equal to the total from all of last year said Katherine Carter, a prosecutor's office spokeswoman.

Kelly Gaymon Armstrong, Gaymon's sister, could not believe the circumstances surrounding the incident.

"There's nothing threatening about his character," she said. "He's a softie. It doesn't add up."

A high school classmate who assisted Gaymon with organizing the event encouraged people not to pass judgment until the facts are all in.

"They were shocked to hear about the death ... He wasn't that type of guy. But we don't know what happened...I'm just saying, don't pass judgment if you don't know what happened," Kerry Asbury said.

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