By: Eva Zelson
On: March 16, 2022
On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Zeff Law Firm, LLC, with the support of the NAACP-NJ State Conference, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jajuan R. Henderson against the City of Trenton, Trenton Police Department Director Steve Wilson, and several unidentified police officers. This case involves a case of police brutality in which a police-involved shooting left a twenty-nine-year-old Black man paralyzed from the chest down after a far from routine “traffic stop.” Just after midnight on February 12, 2022 in Trenton, New Jersey, Jajuan went to retrieve some iced tea from a car parallel parked outside of a home he was visiting. In the middle of the night, Jajuan sat lawfully parked in a car with the engine turned off when an unidentified dark car approached and parked next to him, boxing him in. A group of men, fully masked and in dark plain clothes, then jumped out of this mysterious vehicle and began yelling at Jajuan. As many others would do in this escalating situation, Jajuan used his cell phone to call for support.
Lethal Force by Police Officers
This group of men, appearing as any other group of dangerous criminals from a horror movie, turned out to be from the Trenton Police Department. A Black man sitting in a car at midnight while on a cell phone was all these unidentified officers needed to smash the driver’s side window. Despite being unarmed, nonthreatening, and minding his own business, these officers proceeded to use lethal force and shoot Jajuan in the neck. It is a miracle Jajuan survived, and he will have a long road to recovery, if at all, from the actions of the Trenton Police Department.
This incident and incidents like it are all too familiar. These officers—sworn to protect and serve all—rushed to execution. These officers devalued the life of another Black man. 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 not do to avoid police brutality.
In a legal system that prioritizes maintaining the anonymity of the officers who use lethal force, Jajuan and his family bring this lawsuit demanding justice, change, and transparency. They hold their heads high, despite the Trenton Police Department’s best efforts, and they will not be swayed. Too many lives have been shattered; too many families destroyed. The time for waiting is over.
Jajuan and his family may be supported by donating to Gofundme .