DeFarra Gaymon was shot to death in Newark’s Branch Brook Park on July 16, 2010.
The Essex County sheriff’s officer who shot and killed an unarmed DeFarra Gaymon during a 2010 public sex sting in a Newark park described the 48-year-old Gaymon as aggressive and repeatedly threatening him in a statement that was written three days after the July 16 shooting.
“Gaymon walked within on [sic] of me while he was masturbating his exposed penis with his right hand,” wrote Edward Esposito, who was 29 in 2010.
Esposito was on an undercover detail in Newark’s Branch Brook Park and had just made a public sex arrest of another man that turned violent. After placing that man in a police car at roughly 5:20 in the evening, Esposito went back into the park to find a set of handcuffs he lost. It was then that he encountered Gaymon.
Edward Esposito's statement three days later asserted he feared for his life after DeFarra Gaymon's threat of sexual assault
Esposito wrote that he “initially blocked” Gaymon, but the older man “became aggressive” and pushed him, causing Esposito to trip and fall.
“Gaymon was now standing over me and with his penis still exposed he stated ‘I am gonna fuck you,’” Esposito wrote. “At this time I was still on the ground and I identified myself by word of mouth and display of badge.”
Gaymon “became visibly panicked and appeared to be enraged,” Esposito wrote, and a foot chase through the park began. At 6:03, Esposito called his partner to tell him he was pursuing a man in the park, according to records disclosed by the Essex County prosecutor’s office in 2011 after a grand jury declined to indict Esposito. The chase took them more than a quarter mile from the location of the initial meeting
At one moment, Esposito wrote, Gaymon said, “Get back, I’ll kill you.” The sheriff’s officer took his gun out.
“I became in fear for my life due to his aggressive and desperate behavior where he was provoking me and threatening my life,” he wrote. “Since he was becoming increasingly desperate and threatening, I retrieved my service weapon because I was in fear for my life.”
Esposito kept his weapon out as he continued to chase Gaymon. The pursuit ended when Gaymon was trapped with a pond in front of him and Esposito standing behind him. Esposito wrote that Gaymon would not obey his orders to show his hands, though the older man did get down on his knees.
“He began yelling at me ‘Fuck you, I’ll kill you’ in a very aggressive and desperate manner which further put me in fear for my life,” Esposito wrote. “I then made several attempts to push Gaymon off balance with my foot in an attempt to get him on the ground so I could safely handcuff him.”
Esposito’s statement, which has not previously been made public, was filed on April 12 in a federal lawsuit the Gaymon family brought against Esposito, the sheriff’s office, and Essex County. In court records, the family asserted that Esposito repeatedly kicked Gaymon while he was on his knees.
In addition to the arrest just prior to the Gaymon killing, Esposito is known to have been involved in three 2009 public sex arrests that also turned violent.
Esposito wrote that Gaymon would not obey commands to show his hands. The older man “suddenly turned to his left and towards me and attempted to stand” and lunged for Esposito’s gun with his left hand while “pulling an object out of his pocket with his right hand,” according to the officer’s statement.
Esposito pulled the trigger on his gun twice, but heard only one shot. The bullet struck Gaymon in the torso. At 6:04, Esposito used his cell phone to call the sheriff’s office central dispatch to request medical assistance and report that he had been involved in a shooting.
In his statement, Esposito wrote that Gaymon still would not show his hands after being shot, but he eventually handcuffed him. Esposito found no weapons on Gaymon.
Esposito’s description of Gaymon’s behavior departs from the usual behavior of public sex devotees, who tend to be discreet. If Gaymon was cruising for sex, he had good reasons to take care to avoid an arrest. He was married with four children and he was the chief executive of an Atlanta credit union. He was in Newark to attend a high school reunion.
William Dobbs, an attorney and longtime gay activist who has followed the shooting closely, did not find Esposito’s statement credible.
“The statement Officer Esposito gave is just stomach-churning,” Dobbs said. “An unarmed man allegedly looking for a hook-up in the park ends up shot and killed. The killing still makes no sense, and there is something very odd and strange about Esposito’s account.”