New bodycam video shows Trenton, NJ police shooting that left man paralyzed
Newly released video footage from four body cameras worn by Trenton cops is shedding light on the police-involved shooting that left a Black man paralyzed.
The video, released by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, appears to show one officer firing four times at 29-year-old Jajuan Henderson. Other officers had their guns drawn but did not fire.
A lawsuit filed on behalf of Henderson against Trenton and its police claims he had gone out to grab an iced tea in a sedan owned by his girlfriend. The 2003 Saturn Ion was parallel parked between two vehicles on Centre Street outside his girlfriend's home, according to the complaint.
This new footage covers a continuous six-minute period from the incident after midnight on Feb. 12. It shows the perspectives of all four officers involved.
In the moments leading up to the shooting, officers repeatedly told Henderson to get out of the Ion. He refused, only speaking to the cops through a slightly open window.
Officers also repeatedly told Henderson to "stop reaching."
“Y’all stopped me for no reason,” Henderson says.
In response, one cop said he would break the driver’s side window to get in. Henderson continued to argue with the officers.
One cop started breaking the window, stopping several times. However, Henderson still did not get out.
Once the window was broken, Henderson started the car. He rammed the parked vehicle in front, then backed into another car behind.
After the Ion hits the second car, one cop opens fire. The same officer then tells the others to remove Henderson from the Ion and to “start rendering aid.”
Police appear identified in video, despite lawsuit's claims
The newly released footage gives a clearer picture of events than the affidavit or lawsuit. It also shows some inconsistencies with the facts as stated in Henderson’s complaint.
The lawsuit, filed by Zeff Law Firm, states repeatedly that the officers were masked and unidentified.
“Two males, dressed in black wearing masks and no identification jumped out of the dark sedan and moved toward Plaintiff,” according to the complaint.
Attorney David Bahuriak, of the Bahuriak Law Group in Philadelphia, reiterated the claim about police wearing masks and civilian clothing at a press conference at NAACP headquarters in Trenton. Bahuriak said Henderson believed it was a mugging.
“This was an unarmed man sitting in a parked car when he was approached by law enforcement officers. We don’t have any reason to believe they even knew who Mr. Henderson was. This should have been a really routine interaction which ended up in a shooting," he said.
However, one of the videos clearly shows two officers at the vehicle’s driver-side window speaking with Henderson. The cops are unmasked, wearing uniforms, and have on vests with “Police” on the front and back.
Additionally, the two unmarked vehicles boxing in the Ion both had flashing police lights.
The lawsuit also states Henderson “was unarmed and not a danger to himself or others.”
“Even if it was true that Plaintiff did start the car and attempt to flee the scene after the window was broken, it was impossible to flee because the car was boxed in by the other cars and a utility pole.
It’s unclear if the officers’ lives were in immediate danger. While Henderson was crashing into other vehicles, the officers managed to step away and none were injured.
Zeff Law Firm did not respond to a request for comment from New Jersey 101.5 Friday.
Questions remain unanswered
An affidavit states police were conducting a "motor vehicle stop." It does not say what prompted the investigation.
Additionally, authorities initially charged Henderson after the shooting with resisting arrest, obstruction, and four counts of second-degree aggravated assault. Prosecutors have since dropped the assault charges for an unknown reason.
The four officers involved are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation led by the Union County Prosecutor's Office.