The family of a man killed by police officers in Bridgeton, N.J., in December has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the officers of using excessive force during an unlawful traffic stop and saying the police department, city, and Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office allowed a pattern of misconduct.
Jerame Reid, 36, was shot several times Dec. 30 by Bridgeton Officer Braheme Days during a traffic stop as he stepped out of the passenger side of a car. Another officer fired as well. Reid's family seeks at least $1 million in damages, though the lawyer who filed the suit said that number was largely a placeholder so the case could go forward.
In the lawsuit, Reid's family says Days and his partner, Roger W. Worley, violated Reid's constitutional rights, "including the right to be free from physical abuse by government officials."
The officers also used force that "was unreasonable, excessive, and without lawful justification or excuse," the suit reads.
The suit also accuses the city of "a history, pattern, and culture of unlawful behavior" within the department, particularly of "unlawful traffic stops and excessive force" by Days, Worley, and other officers.
The shooting prompted several protests amid increased national attention to police shootings, especially those of unarmed black men.
Reid was black, as is Days. Worley is white.
The Prosecutor's Office should hand off the investigation, said Conrad J. Benedetto, the Reid family's attorney, because it is named in the civil suit.
Benedetto said he hoped further information would come to light.
"Through the legal process, we're going to have access to greater discovery, and we'll get more information . . . along the lines of police training, police practice, and procedure in Bridgeton," he said by phone Friday.
Bridgeton police said no one was available to comment on the suit.
First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro said his office's investigation into the shooting had not concluded. He also declined to comment on the civil suit.