Lawsuit in Police Shooting Death of Former CU of Atlanta CEO Reveals New Claims
Three years after DeFarra “Dean” Gaymon, the former president/CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta, was killed during a sting operation in Newark, N.J., his family continues to seek justice.
According to several media reports, the latest update regarding a lawsuit filed by Gaymon’s family suggested that the sheriff deputy who shot Gaymon may have had him in a position that did not justify killing the credit union executive.
In town for a high school reunion, Gaymon was shot and killed by an undercover sheriff's detective on July 16, 2010 in what the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said was during a patrol of Branch Brook Park in Newark after receiving complaints of public sexual activity.
Edward Esposito, an undercover Essex County sheriff’s detective at the time, said in his statement of what transpired that Gaymon was engaged in a sex act when he pulled out his badge, identified himself as a police officer and informed Gaymon he was under arrest. The detective said Gaymon appeared to panic, assaulted the officer and ran.
Gaymon ignored Esposito’s commands to stop, did not raise his arms or make his hands visible and repeatedly threatened to kill the officer, according to the detective's statement. Esposito said Gaymon then lunged at and attempted to disarm the officer while reaching into his own pocket.
The officer said he feared for his life and discharged his service weapon, striking Gaymon once. Esposito said he called for help and rendered first aid to Gaymon, who was rushed to University Hospital in Newark and pronounced dead at 9 p.m. July 16 of a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.
The Gaymon family filed a civil suit against Esposito, two senior officers and the Essex County sheriff’s office questioning the shooting’s investigation. A grand jury in Essex County, N.J., later declined to bring criminal charges against Esposito.
The sheriff’s office said no witnesses ever came forward and a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s would not provide information on what evidence was actually presented to the grand jury.
Meanwhile, in an amended complaint filed on Feb. 15, Christopher Kinum, the attorney representing Gaymon’s family claimed when Gaymon was approached by Esposito, he got down on his knees, the Gay City News recently reported. Because there was a pond in front of him, Gaymon had no way to flee and he was also approached from behind by Esposito, according to the publication, which also reported that Esposito kicked Gaymon several times.
“At the time he was shot, DeFarra was unarmed and helpless, and in no way posed a threat to Defendant Officer Esposito’s safety or to the safety of any other persons,” wrote Kinum, who wrote in a separate brief that he was relying on “Officer Esposito’s written statement made three days after the shooting,” the Gay City News reported.
According to the publication, in 2009, Esposito was allegedly involved in three public sex arrests that resulted in violence.
A comment was not immediately available from Kinum or the Essex County prosecutor.
In 2011, the New York Times reported Charles Sciarra, the attorney for Esposito, said Esposito voluntarily testified before the grand jury telling the publication that the use of force was an absolute last resort and justified in all aspects.
Gaymon had served as president/CEO of the $82 million CU of Atlanta since 2006. During his tenure, the credit union grew to $56 million in assets, more than 15,000 members and a rebranding campaign was launched across the Atlanta area.
Prior to that, he served as vice president of operations at the $550 million South Carolina State Credit Union in Columbia. He started his credit union career at the $61 million Palmetto Health Credit Union, also in Columbia.
Married with four children, Gaymon was 48 years old at the time of his death.