Unarmed New Jersey Black man paralyzed after police shot him in neck, per lawsuit

Jajuan R. Henderson was out grabbing tea from a car in front of his Trenton-area home when officers in plainclothes shot him repeatedly, according to the suit

Jajuan R. Henderson, a Black man from New Jersey, is paralyzed after police officers in plain clothes shot him while he was getting iced tea from inside a car parked outside his home.

As reported by NBC News, Henderson, 29, is now suing the department for excessive force, racial profiling and negligence following the Feb. 12 shooting that left the Trenton-area resident, who was unarmed, paralyzed from the chest down, per the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday per NBC News, shortly after midnight Henderson went to grab the beverage from a Saturn Ion parallel parked outside his residence when multiple men wearing masks and dark clothing boxed him in with an unidentified vehicle.

“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,” the lawsuit read, per the outlet.

Not knowing who the men were, Henderson tried to call for help using his cell phone after the officers started yelling. 

The group of offices proceeded to smash the driver’s side window of the car and shoot Henderson four times, according to the suit. 

“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,” read the lawsuit. 

Per reports, Henderson was hit in the neck. According to attorney Derek Demeri, Henderson is fighting hard through the early stages of his rehabilitation process, though he remains a ways away from gaining mobility.

“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 Jajuan survived,” the lawsuit said.

Tim Carroll, a spokesperson for the city and police department, declined NBC News’ request for comment, but confirmed that an investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

“The City of Trenton has fully complied with the required Attorney General’s review of the February 12 incident, and await the findings,” Carroll told the outlet.

The identities of the four officers involved are only indicated by initials in the lawsuit, which names them and Trenton Police Director Steve E. Wilson as defendants. Wilson did not respond immediately to NBC News’ request for comment.

Demeri told NBC News that several things about the case remain unknown, including why the plainclothed officers were out in the area that night. 

Per the outlet, the suit claims that body camera footage of the incident exists, but is yet to be publicly released. According to NJ.com, public records requests for video footage in the state are usually completed within 20 days.

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