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CEO Shot to Death by Cop at 'Gay' Cruising Spot in Newark

DeFarra Gaymon, the successful CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta, was shot and killed by a police officer in Newark, New Jersey last week after allegedly propositioning the officer at a cruising area to which he had made a detour on the way to his 30th high school reunion.

Gaymon Details regarding Gaymon's death, mostly from the one-sided perspective of the officer who shot him, are emerging:

On Tuesday, the acting Essex County prosecutor gave the first detailed, public description of what happened in the wooded park that night, saying that the officer, who had tried to arrest Mr. Gaymon, 48, over lewd behavior, fired in self-defense. The prosecutor, Robert D. Laurino, said that Mr. Gaymon assaulted the officer, a 29-year-old member of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, tried to flee and then, when cornered, attempted to disarm the officer.

The incident, despite whatever your personal opinions are about consensual sex in public places (between men, most of whom do not identify as gay), begs the question of why police budget and resources are being spent to send armed officers to deal with this type of behavior.

Around 6 p.m., after chasing down a man and arresting him, the officer realized he had lost his handcuffs in the pursuit and went back into the woods, alone, to retrieve them, the prosecutor said.

“The plainclothes officer was bending down to retrieve his handcuffs,” Mr. Laurino said, “when he was approached by Mr. Gaymon, who was engaged in a sexual act at the time.” Words were exchanged that the prosecutor said “would lead one to believe that” Mr. Gaymon was propositioning the officer.

“The officer pulled out his badge, identified himself as a police officer and informed Mr. Gaymon that he was under arrest,” Mr. Laurino said. Then, he said, Mr. Gaymon shoved the officer to the ground and ran, ignored the officer’s demands to stop, and repeatedly threatened to kill the officer if he approached. The officer cornered Mr. Gaymon beside a pond and tried to handcuff him, Mr. Laurino said, but again Mr. Gaymon resisted.

“Mr. Gaymon reached into his pocket and lunged at the officer in an attempt to disarm the officer,” Mr. Laurino said. The officer, “fearing for his life,” the prosecutor said, shot Mr. Gaymon once, and he died at the hospital three hours later.

Mr. Laurino’s statement was based on an account given by the officer to investigators. Prosecutors said they knew of no one else who saw what happened, and they asked that any witnesses step forward.

A married father of four is now dead because someone on the Newark police force felt that eradicating this behavior was more of a priority than all of the other problems in that city.

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  1. Right, Mr Gaymon was completely blameless in this situation. While his death was tragic, engaging in sex at a public rest area at night is not something you do without risk, or should do at all.. If I had four children at home that depended upon me I would hope to be more responsible with my decisions. The real victims here is Mr Gaymon's spouse and children.

    Posted by: NewEng | Jul 21, 2010 7:49:47 AM

  2. When I read about this in the NY Times yesterday, I felt as if I had exerienced a profoundly moving Shakesperean tragedy.

    Posted by: shanesoho | Jul 21, 2010 7:54:24 AM

  3. I actually don't have a problem with Police patrolling areas where men have sex with men in public. A lot of 'straight' men seem to be caught there. A gay man in this circumstance would not have tried to fight for his life, because he would have accepted that he was in the wrong and that his life would not be ruined by being caught by the police in this scenario.

    This man wasn't fighting to avoid a court appearance. He was fighting to avoid the reality of who he was. He died trying to protect a projection, instead of living his truth.

    In a way Police patrolling these areas are actually doing the out gay community a favor (in a post-modern culture theory kind of way). The out gay community needs to shun this kind of behavior too.

    Posted by: James | Jul 21, 2010 8:06:08 AM

  4. While it's unfortunate that Mr. Gaymon died, he died as a direct result of his own actions. Anyone who flees from a police officer while engaging in illegal activity, and appears to grab something from his pocket while attempting to disarm the office, puts his life at risk. I think trying to portray this as a police effort to intimidate homosexuals is really stretching the boundaries of reality.

    Posted by: marc | Jul 21, 2010 8:07:15 AM

  5. Glad for some smart comments here. The article as posted takes a far too convenient stance of ignoring the illegality of the behavior - which cops should be enforcing laws. The notion, - as with so many comments about immigration in Arizona, completely overlook the illegality of the act. Gaymon was doing something illegal, and foolish. Towleroad is wrong to paint the cop in error for doing what he should have been doing; and wrong to be so instantly forgiving of Gaymon's legal and ethical and good sense transgressions.

    Posted by: JH | Jul 21, 2010 8:16:43 AM

  6. "The plainclothes officer was bending down to retrieve his handcuffs,” Mr. Laurino said, “when he was approached by Mr. Gaymon, who was engaged in a sexual act at the time." --- I call BS.
    So the police guy lost his handcuffs (yeah right), went back into the woods for them, bc he knew he'd lost them there (yeah right), and in the 2 seconds it takes to bend down and pick them up, this guy who was having sex with another dude stopped having sex and approached the police -- bc he was bendind down.
    This shit is so fake it's not even funny.

    Posted by: topher | Jul 21, 2010 8:19:23 AM

  7. Oh my god, a queer caught with his pants down and worse, talking to a hero in blue.
    Shoot the fucker!!!
    I can't believe all you uncle toms, is the sex in homosexuality a capital crime now?

    Posted by: philippe landman | Jul 21, 2010 8:22:28 AM

  8. No one knows what really happened except that Gaymon is dead. There are countless ways to flush out these areas, none of which involve killing the suspect.

    This might be an instance of one poorly trained policeman or a poorly designed police operation. In my city, as they could in Newark, a police helicopter equipped with strong spotlights hovering overhead is an excellent deterrent.

    This may be one of those "suicide by cop" things, since Gaymon may not have been thinking rationally when he realized he was to be arrested. Still, even if Gaymon had decided to become suicidally reckless in his aggression towards the arresting officer, weren't there nonlethal alternatives available?

    Does anyone know of any recorded instance of a man arrested in a public park for lewd behavior actually killing the arresting officer?

    Posted by: Fahd | Jul 21, 2010 8:24:44 AM

  9. Well, Gaymon should not have died but HELLO - the biggest MO in the world. Just looked at his beauty contest pose. Four of father, yadda, yadda, yadda, - Gaymon was in the closet to protect his faboo $$$$$ job. He thought he could be Mr. Business and get fucked up the butt in the wilds of New Jersey. Please.... if more CEOs made a stand and said enough, is enough.
    Well, I hope the blow job was worth it.

    Posted by: Ian | Jul 21, 2010 8:26:31 AM

  10. Here is the reality of things...Mr. Gaymon went to a known cruising area and he is now dead. Gays need to STOP cruising in public areas and these STUPID comments that straights do it as well are such lies. NO group cruises in public like gay men.

    Posted by: True Words | Jul 21, 2010 8:36:56 AM

  11. Wow, I don't know what stuns me more here, the article or the comments. You people are harsh!!

    Posted by: realitythink | Jul 21, 2010 8:38:19 AM

  12. Is this now only a troll site? A man died and of course, because he was on the down low, it is really his fault. It is good he died because he should have been out.

    I mean what is a 29-year cop veteran, who is still out beating the bushes to arrest not out men to do except shoot him? I mean so many cops have been killed in that, oh so dangerous undercover work. I mean you hear about cops being killed all the time by queers. It is only sex boys.

    Posted by: pete | Jul 21, 2010 8:53:09 AM

  13. it is astounding to me that the self-righteous pansies above are blaming the victim. a man looking for cock in the woods should not die at the hands of a bigot with a gun.

    Posted by: nic | Jul 21, 2010 9:16:45 AM

  14. I'm with Andy & Phillipe. This IS a fuckin problem. Granted, cruising in the park is a bad idea. And cruising in the park is probably a sign of either extreme unhealthy repression (in Mr. Gaymon's case) and/or a sex addiction problem. These are real problems. But for gay men to laud the over-harsh enforcement of such activities because of their own self-shame doesn't help anyone either.

    Posted by: guywithaclue | Jul 21, 2010 9:30:00 AM

  15. Someone ought to shoot that cop! I don't believe his story for a second, he is a liar who is covering up what can only be considered another oppressive act of murdering a faggot!
    Why would a cop not call for back up? Why was he out there alone to begin with? I think the cop was the one on the DL and he got caught so he covered up for it. He probably figured no one would care because the victim was black and gay.
    This is like a scene from 1960. It's absurd that law enforcement hasn't improved it's policies for dealing with what would have been a misdemeanor if he had been charged. This is total bullshit! This man did not deserve to die, the fucking asshole cop does, but not the victim.

    Posted by: tooboot | Jul 21, 2010 9:36:05 AM

  16. Oh come on! Regardless of whether or not you think sex in a public area (not private) 'should' be legal or not. The fact is, that in very many places, 'it is illegal'.

    So it should be no surprise that at times officers are sent to patrol areas where known illegal activities are occurring.

    Yes, it is tragic that as a result of all this a life was lost. If indeed he did try to flee a valid arrest, was pursued and put up a fight; then we all know that there is an increased chance of a ramped up response on the part of the officer. 'IF' there was a point at which the officer felt sufficiently threatened... then we see what can happen.

    Who in the world thinks that officers should disengage if a suspect becomes potentially violent, and let the suspect run off? That could certainly be a judgement call on the part of the officer, but required? I think not - for a lot of good reasons.

    Posted by: common sense | Jul 21, 2010 9:38:20 AM

  17. The insensitivity of these comments is shocking. Of course police can and should enforce the law but was deadly force really necessary!? It's not like he had just robbed a bank or mugged an old lady.

    Regardless, the closet was certainly a participant in this tragedy. My heart goes out to his wife and children.

    Posted by: matt | Jul 21, 2010 9:39:33 AM

  18. Rest in peace DeFarra Gaymon, may your widow and four children find a way to preserver.

    Posted by: Dave | Jul 21, 2010 9:44:26 AM

  19. This whole scenario is tragic..while the cop does not seem to be telling the whole truth, Mr Gaymon should have remained calm. Ultimately it is the police dept.'s fault. In these tough economic times when agencies are having to cut staff, to delegate anyone to this type of assignment is just plain foolish. Catching people having sex in private areas @ night is not a priority for any police dept. unless it is a public area where families congregate. I doubt this was the case.
    The cops in MN. periodically pull this crap in a couple areas around the Twin Cities, the areas they patrol are not frequented by heteros, and never at night, and from what I remember the heteros were never walking through the area people had sex in, unless of course they were looking for it themselves..another issue I have is the entrapment angle. If a cop is at a cruise area be in uniform, walk through and everyone will go away! Don't send hunky officers in tank tops with concealed badges into the bushes to stand around and rub their croctches! THIS IS ENTRAPMENT! No matter what people or officers say you are projecting something you are order to procure an arrest..
    True story..a friend of mine was in a cruise area, big mistake as it was during the day, he comes across 2 guys who look hot and "into" one another, one guy kneels in front of the other, friend tries to get closer to have a his crotch a jump up identify themselves, and arrest him...SAYING, he had his cock out, which, (and I believe him) did not...their word against his, he paid the fine, I would have went to be blamed for something I did not do even if I was there for that reason would piss me off to no end!
    Police are scary shit, like military it takes a certain type to go into that field, often someone who is paranoid to an extent.
    Bottom line, undercover cops at cruise areas is a priority that should be on the bottom of the list with all the other crap going on in our cities.

    Posted by: mnrocko | Jul 21, 2010 9:48:58 AM

  20. Absolutely ridiculous...

    1. How/why is this a priority for police?
    2. Why are police not sent in in pairs?
    3. Why don't they simply ticket cars & wait for owners & have a 'talk' with them.
    It's all absurd.

    And, btw, all you clowns reminding us it's illegal, well so is speeding & cheating on ur taxes... You folks are buying into the notion that sex btwn men makes it extra scary. There are WAAAAAY better ways for limited Police budgets to be spent.

    Posted by: stephen | Jul 21, 2010 9:56:39 AM

  21. TrueWords said: "Gays need to STOP cruising in public areas and these STUPID comments that straights do it as well are such lies. NO group cruises in public like gay men."

    No, NO group cruises in public like CLOSETED guys who identify as STRAIGHT.

    The majority of men who cruise in public places are closet-cases who identify themselves as "straight", live "straight" lives and usually have a tendency to have anti-gay stances.

    I don't appreciate that when these people do something bad, they are then lumped with those of us who are openly gay but the rest of the time, they are upstanding straights.


    Posted by: Dallas | Jul 21, 2010 10:00:47 AM

  22. I agree with Topher; the cop's story sounds like BS. And anyway, I've never in my life sought out an outdoor place to have sex with a stranger, nor have I ever been approached for outdoor sex in such a place. You pretty much have to be looking for it to find it (as this cop was). I have my suspicions that some of these cops enjoy this "undercover" work more than they want to admit, and that homophobia is driving this phenomenon from every angle.
    It's not like grandmothers are innocently taking their toddlers for a walk in those bushes at midnight, unwittingly stumbling upon sex. So why should those of us who don't engage in these things even care about what others do there? Mr. Gaymon probably led a sad and scared life and that he was probably terrified that this stranger with a gun was determined to end his life either figuratively or literally.

    Posted by: GregV | Jul 21, 2010 10:14:09 AM

  23. The real villains here are the closet and our rabidly homophobic society.

    If it weren't for them this never would have happened. The man wouldn't have been in the park cruising. The officer wouldn't have been in the woods patrolling. And a woman and four kids would be finding out that their husband and father was a closeted gay or bi man shot and killed while having sex with another man in the woods of a public park.

    The whole thing is tragic but most everyone here seems to be missing the overarching problem.

    We need to be fighting for legal equality but we need to be putting more effort and energy into promoting social acceptance. Winning marriage equality is not going to stop this sort of thing or put an end to the closet. Until we create a society where we can hold hands in public and kiss in public and show affection in public the same as straight people can and until children grow up in a world where their not conditioned to see gay as a bad or undesirable thing, these tragedies will continue. They still happen in Holland and Canada and every other supposed gay utopia. We have to put more effort and energy into changing hearts and minds if we want to achieve TRUE equality and forever end the scourge of the closet.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jul 21, 2010 10:16:32 AM

  24. I agree with Dallas. I don't even know why this is being debated on towleroad, since this guy was "straight." Let the straight community deal with the fact that a "straight" man was shot cruising in the woods for sex. Again, this guy was "straight" with a wife and four kids. He has nothing in common with me - an out gay man in a monogamous relationship for 22 years.

    Posted by: BE | Jul 21, 2010 10:23:12 AM

  25. That cop's story sounds awfully fishy. Hopefully someone saw what happened and will come forward to either confirm or dispute the story. It is very hard for me to see how a police encounter with a completely unarmed man could ever result in a justifiable officer-involved shooting.

    Posted by: Z | Jul 21, 2010 10:27:30 AM

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