Family Wants Video Released of South Jersey Man Dying After Marijuana Arrest
TRENTON — The state Attorney General's office is investigating why a man died shortly after his arrest during a traffic stop on the Atlantic City Expressway. His family's attorney, meanwhile, is asking that all video related to the case be released to the public.
He died two hours later after he began to convulse after appearing to put something in his mouth, according to a statement Tuesday from Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig.
Honig said an autopsy exam later showed Zamor had a plastic bag in his throat along with a firm white substance, which officers told an emergency medical crew they suspected was crack cocaine.
"Very little information has been provided has been provided since the beginning," the Zamor family's attorney, John Stein, told New Jersey 101.5 on Tuesday, shortly after the state released its statement. "We didn't get any answers until we, unfortunately, had to issue a press release. It's not what we wanted to do but the family wants answers and that was the only way for the family to actually achieve them."
"We are aware of the Attorney General's guidelines, policy and dependent investigation, but it is still unfair to the Zamor family, who are not being able to have the answers as to why their husband and father is no longer alive. Why he's never going to come home again. Why within two hours of being in police custody he was pronounced dead," Stein said.
Honig said officers noticed that Zamor had something in his mouth when he was being processed but he refused to open his mouth.
Honig said officers returned to Zamor's cell with rubber gloves and held him down but did not use force as they removed a piece of a white rock-like substance from Zamor's mouth. Zamor continued to behave as if there was something in his mouth while he drank water and wiped his face, according to Honig. He also put a wad of toilet paper in his mouth.
Zamor became restless in the cell and was hunched over the toilet and sink when police came inside to help him, according to Honig, who said Zamor was lowered to the floor of the cell by the troopers who tried to revive him before an EMS crew arrived.
Stein said that releasing the video would "confirm what the state is saying in these press releases."
The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team handles investigations of shootings involving state troopers and the deaths of those in custody of police.
Full preliminary investigation report released Tuesday by the state Attorney General's Office:
The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Marshall Zamor, 39, of Sicklerville, who died while in the custody of the New Jersey State Police after being arrested on a drug charge on the Atlantic City Expressway on March 29.
According to the preliminary investigation, Zamor was stopped on the Atlantic City Expressway shortly before 11 a.m. on March 29 because the windows of his vehicle had illegal tinting. The trooper smelled the odor of marijuana and requested backup. Zamor was ordered out of his car and a probable cause search revealed what appeared to be two marijuana “blunts.” Zamor was arrested and brought to the Atlantic City Expressway State Police Station, where he was placed in a holding cell pending processing on the charge of possession of marijuana.
At some point prior to or after the arrest, Zamor concealed an unknown object in his mouth. Troopers at the station observed that Zamor had something in his mouth and entered the cell in an attempt to remove the object. Zamor would not cooperate and open his mouth to surrender the object. The troopers left the cell. Zamor continued to look and behave like he had something in his mouth. Troopers meanwhile retrieved protective plastic gloves, and several troopers re-entered the cell to try to remove the object. This time a trooper was able to swipe a chunk of a white rocklike substance from Zamor’s mouth, but he was unable to remove all of the partially chewed substance. Troopers held Zamor during these efforts, but no force was used by the troopers beyond the force needed to hold him and attempt to swipe the object from his mouth. Zamor did not appear to be in distress during or after these attempts to remove the object. After the second attempt, troopers called for EMS to respond, reporting that a prisoner had ingested suspected crack cocaine.
Zamor continued to work his mouth and wipe his mouth as if he had something in it. After a number of minutes, he began to appear restless and uncomfortable, repeatedly leaning over a sink in the cell, where he drank water and wiped his face, his clothing and the sink with toilet paper. At one point, he put a wad of toilet paper in his mouth. Troopers observed that Zamor appeared to be in distress. They entered the cell to assist Zamor, and Zamor again hunched over the sink. Troopers held Zamor as he hunched over the sink and a toilet in the cell. Zamor appeared to struggle with the troopers trying to help him, and they lowered him to the floor. Troopers placed Zamor on his side and continued to try to aid him as he began convulsing and lost consciousness. Troopers attempted to revive him with smelling salts. They then administered CPR to Zamor. EMS personnel arrived and took over the efforts to revive Zamor. Zamor was taken to Atlantic City Medical Center in Galloway, where he was pronounced dead.
Toxicology tests have not been completed and the autopsy report on Zamor has not been finalized. However, during the autopsy exam, a plastic bag was found obstructing Zamor’s larynx and a firm white substance was found in the larynx.
No further details are being released at this time because of the ongoing investigation.
Under an Attorney General Directive, the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team, made up of deputy attorneys general, detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, and detectives of the State Police Homicide Unit, are dispatched to handle investigations of shootings involving state troopers or officers employed by county prosecutors, as well as in-custody deaths involving such officers.