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No charges for 2 Bridgeton officers in fatal shooting

The two police officers involved in a fatal shooting in Cumberland County, N.J., last year will not face charges, the county Prosecutor's Office said Thursday, citing a grand jury decision that elicited disappointment from critics of the officers' actions.

The two police officers involved in a fatal shooting in Cumberland County, N.J., last year will not face charges, the county Prosecutor's Office said Thursday, citing a grand jury decision that elicited disappointment from critics of the officers' actions.

Jerame Reid's death during a Dec. 30 traffic stop in Bridgeton had stirred outcry after dashboard-camera footage of the encounter was released in January. It showed Officer Braheme Days yelling to Reid, "You reach for something, you're going to be [expletive] dead," before he opened fire.

Days, according to statements made to the Prosecutor's Office, said he felt in "imminent danger" before he shot Reid multiple times.

Reid, 36, was unarmed at the time, as his family and a local civil rights activist have maintained since the shooting.

Days had removed a handgun from the car's glove compartment and was holding it when he shot Reid with the service weapon he was holding in his other hand.

Days said he began shooting because he believed Reid was about to grab the handgun back or had another weapon in the car. No additional weapon was found.

Authorities also said Reid did not follow orders to stay in the vehicle. But Reid, according to the investigative findings, told Days he was getting out and onto the ground before opening the passenger-side door.

Days and Reid knew each other - Days had arrested him in August 2014 for resisting arrest. Days and Officer Roger Worley also knew Reid had a previous conviction for firing at state troopers.

Days is black, as was Reid. Worley is white.

The Prosecutor's Office interviewed witnesses, including the officers and the driver who was sitting next to Reid, and reviewed dashboard-camera footage and forensic evidence to present its findings to the grand jury. The grand jury decided Wednesday not to file criminal charges against Days and Worley.

Reid's family and several activists had called for the state to take over the probe because Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae - who recused herself from the case - knows Days.

Walter Hudson, chairman of the Salem County-based civil rights group National Awareness Alliance, said the grand jury decision was "disappointing but not surprising." He cited Webb-McRae's connection to Days, and police-shooting cases in cities such as New York and Ferguson, Mo., where grand juries declined to indict officers.

"Jerame Reid should not be dead at the end of the day," Hudson said. "He should not be dead."

Hudson, who plans to appeal to the U.S. Department of Justice's civil rights division for an investigation, dismissed the officers' claims that they were in imminent danger.

"They were the ones with the guns," he said.

Bridgeton Police Chief Michael A. Gaimari Sr. wrote Thursday on Facebook that the department stood by the officers' actions and that he had faith in the investigative process.

"No police officer wants any incident to end with any loss of life, including their own," Gaimari said. "Officers must make split-second decisions routinely and unfortunately, at times, those decisions can be fatal."

The dash-cam video of the encounter, released in response to a South Jersey Times open-records request, shows Days shooting Reid.

The vehicle Reid was a passenger in was initially stopped for allegedly running a stop sign.

Days and Worley drew their weapons after the driver tried to reach for his license in the glove compartment, which also had a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

Reid's DNA was on the gun, the Prosecutor's Office said, citing laboratory tests from New Jersey State Police after the shooting.

Days repeatedly ordered Reid to not move, at times yelling and cursing at him.

"Show me your hands, show me your [expletive] hands," Days yelled, according to the video. "Show me your hands, don't [expletive] move."

Moments later, Days told Reid, "I'm going to shoot," and, "You reach for something, you're going to be [expletive] dead."

Reid opened the passenger-side door, which Days had tried to block from opening, and began exiting with his hands in front of him.

Days fired seven shots, some of which struck Reid's chest, heart, and left arm. Worley fired once but did not hit Reid.

The other man in the car, who is not identified in the prosecutor's statement, was in the driver's seat and had his hands up outside the window. He was not hit.

Reid was taken to Inspira Hospital in Vineland, where he was pronounced dead. Attempts to reach his family Thursday were unsuccessful.

Gaimari said Days and Worley would remain on paid administrative leave as he consults with the Prosecutor's Office and city administration about the case.

Days is also accused in an unrelated federal lawsuit of forcing a Bridgeton woman to engage in sexual acts with him and threatening to send her to jail if she refused. The suit was filed in February in U.S. District Court.

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