Trenton, NJ, Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Man in Car Being Probed
TRENTON — A police shooting of an unarmed Black man inside a car a month ago remains under review, as a lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the man, who is now partially paralyzed.
Jajuan Henderson, 29, of Burlington, was shot four times by officers in an incident after midnight Feb. 12, while he was sitting in the driver’s seat of a 2003 Saturn Ion outside a Trenton residence.
Henderson was charged with four counts of aggravated assault, for "attempting to cause serious bodily injury" to officers standing near the car, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office announced two days later.
No officers were hurt.
Henderson was also charged with resisting arrest and obstruction.
All four officers have been on paid administrative leave as the response remains under review.
The state Office of the Attorney General has transferred that investigation to the Union County Prosecutor's Office after a conflict of interest was confirmed among the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, as first reported by NJ.com.
“The City of Trenton has fully complied with the required Attorney General’s review of the February 12 incident, and await the findings. The City has no comment on any pending litigation,” according to a written response to New Jersey 101.5 from Trentonn spokesman Timothy Carroll.
Feb. 12 incident
According to the complaint and affidavit in Henderson’s arrest, body camera footage from one of the officers shows that Henderson started the car after an officer had broken the driver’s side window.
Henderson then hit the car in front of him and then behind him, in trying to move the Ion from its parallel parking spot.
The same affidavit said that Henderson did not provide a driver’s license, vehicle registration, or insurance documents to officers and appeared to be on the phone while officers tried to order him out of the vehicle.
He also would not fully lower the driver’s window and was told to "stop reaching" around in the car, including below the seats, according to the police officers at the scene.
Police have not said what led to the encounter with Henderson.
A lawsuit was being filed on Thursday, according to the Zeff Law Firm with support of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, on behalf of Henderson against the City of Trenton, Trenton Police Department Director Steve Wilson, and several unidentified police officers.
In announcing the suit, attorneys for Henderson said he had gone to the parked car to get an iced tea and was sitting alone in the vehicle, shortly after midnight, when “an unidentified dark car approached and parked next to him, boxing him in.”
“These officers pulled the trigger that nearly ended another Black man’s life. When Black parents give their children ‘the talk,’ they must now add sitting in the car after midnight to the list of things Black men must avoid so they do not appear suspicious,” a joint statement said on Wednesday.
Henderson was initially treated at Capital Health Regional Medical Center.
He was then transferred to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to benefit Henderson and his family.