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Undercover Sex Crime Investigations Suspended After Fatal Shooting

On July 16, Defarra Gaymon, 48, was fatally shot by undercover Essex County Sheriff's deputy Edward Esposito, 29, in Newark's Branch Brook Park. Gaymon, the chief executive of a credit union in Atlanta, had come to New Jersey to attend a high school reunion, but first visited Branch Brook Park, a place known as a destination for gay men seeking sex with strangers. Friends and family of Gaymon were shocked by what happened that day, starting with the fact that the married, father-of-four even went to the park.

The New York Times recently published an article that takes an in-depth look at the situation and explains how law enforcement officials, Gaymon's friends and family and gay rights groups are all trying to figure out what happened. Since the shooting, the Sheriff's Office has suspended the undercover crackdown on men soliciting sex and engaging in sex acts in the park. They have increased the presence of officers in uniform.

An investigation is still underway to sort out all the facts, but what is known is Officer Esposito's account of the incident. On July 16, Officer Esposito was working as a plainclothes officer arresting men soliciting sex. He came upon Gaymon engaged in a solo sex act. Gaymon approached Esposito and Esposito showed him his badge. Gaymon became angry, physically lashed out at Esposito and ran away. Esposito chased Gaymon until he cornered him. Gaymon threatened Esposito and lunged at him and Esposito shot Gaymon in the stomach. Gaymon was unarmed.

Since the undercover operation began, more than 200 people have been arrested for having sex or soliciting sex in the park. The Sheriff's Office contends that there wouldn't be a problem if men went somewhere more private, but defense attorneys and gay rights groups have argued that the plainclothes officers are aggressive and provoke the men.

Source:

  • A Fatal Encounter in a Newark Park (The New York Times)

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