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Lawsuit: New Jersey Police Officers Shot Black Man Drinking Tea in Parked Car

— March 18, 2022

The lawsuit recounts how 29-year-old Jajuan Henderson was accosted and shot by a group of plainclothes police officers while parallel parked outside his own home.

A recently filed lawsuit claims that New Jersey police officers “devalued the life of another Black man” when they shot and wounded Jajuan R. Henderson, who was sitting in his car and drinking tea when he was approached and attacked by law enforcement.

According to NBC News, Henderson, 29, had gone to his car to retrieve a tea when was a group of plainclothes police officers surrounded his Saturn Ion.

Henderson was, at the time, parallel parked outside of his own home in Trenton, New Jersey.

One of the officers allegedly smashed the Saturn’s driver-side window, then unholstered his gun and opened fire.

Henderson was shot four times.

While the 29-year-old survived the shooting, he is now partially paralyzed and permanently disabled.

Blue and red police lights; image by Scott Rodgerson, via
Blue and red police lights; image by Scott Rodgerson, via

“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 the unidentified police needed to smash the driver’s side window,” the lawsuit alleges. “Despite being unarmed, nonthreatening, and minding his own business, the police proceeded to use lethal force and shoot Jajuan in the neck.”

“It is a miracle,” the complaint says, “[that] Jajuan survived.”

Henderson, says his attorneys, is now paralyzed from the chest down.

The lawsuit names as plaintiffs the City of Trenton, Trenton Police Director Steve E. Wilson, and four or the involved officers.

The officers, notes NBC News, are identified in court documents only by their initials.

Attorney Derek Demeri, an attorney representing Henderson, told NBC News that there are still many “unknowns” in the case—up to and including what the plainclothes officers were even hoping to accomplish.

“It’s very frustrating,” Demeri said in a statement. “The family has a right to transparency in this process.”

While the City of Trenton has refused to comment on the incident, citing ongoing litigation, NBC News summarized an affidavit filed against Henderson that details law enforcement’s account of events.

According to the involved Trenton police officers, the city’s street crimes unit had tried to initiate a traffic stop. Henderson was allegedly unable to provide his identification or the vehicle’s papers, and refused officers’ orders to roll down the car window and exit his vehicle.

One officer said he broke Henderson’s window after the 29-year-old began reaching under a backseat.

When the window was broken, Henderson purportedly tried to turn on his vehicle and flee.

Demeri says that his client acted as most other people would—in fear, uncertain as to why he was being approached by a group of aggressive, armed men.

“Anyone in that situation would be very frightened for their life,” Demeri said.


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