Witnesses describe cops shooting possible suspect from behind at AAN shootout
Davone “Dada” White, one of the suspected gunmen in the Art All Night shootout, is captured on grim footage bleeding in the streets after he was shot from behind by the police, witnesses told The Trentonian.
The witnesses said a Trenton cop shot a man they could only identify by the street name “Dada” at least three times as he ran from the Roebling Wire Works building following a wild 2:45 a.m. Father’s Day shootout. A source who knew the three suspected gunmen allegedly involved in the firefight confirmed Dada is White.
The cop then opened fire at least two more times on Dada while he lay on the ground bleeding, the witnesses said. But that action may be deemed justified, according to a police accountability expert interviewed by this newspaper.
A witness who spoke on condition of anonymity said she was sitting inside her gray Hyundai Elantra when the gunfire erupted. She said she was one of the people who witnessed the cop encounter with the man she identified as “Dada,” though she couldn’t confirm his real name.
“The cop was five steps behind him and he shot him. Boom, boom, boom. Three times. The boy fell to the ground. And the boy is screaming and crying. The cop ran around the boy. The boy was, like, squirming on the ground, like wiggling. The cop goes around him and shoots him again. Boom, boom. Two times. Then he put the handcuffs on him.”
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office wouldn’t say whether the man in the video sprawled out near the intersection of Dye and Genesee streets is White.
“All the injured parties have been identified. However, the specifics of which victim or suspect was where is not yet public information as the matter is still under investigation,” spokeswoman Kathleen Petrucci said.
White, 26, and Amir Armstrong, 23, are charged with weapons offenses in connection with the shootout, while a third suspect, Tahaij Wells, was killed by police during the melee.
White has several aliases, including Davone White-Smith, according to court records.
White’s relatives haven’t responded to multiple messages seeking comment.
Trenton Police Detectives Matthew Bledsoe, Michael Cipriano and Eliezer Ramos, as well as Officer Robert Furman remain on administrative leave, standard protocol following a police-involved shooting, while the prosecutor’s office investigates the police response to the shootout.
It’s unclear how many of the 17 people who suffered gunshot wounds were shot by the cops. But The Trentonian spoke to Ureena Gurley, a witness who says she is certain she was hit by a cop’s bullet.
Witnesses described seeing Dada fall to the ground and flop around after getting shot while the cop circled around Dada with his gun drawn and commanded him to stay on the ground and show his hands, before opening fire on him at least two more times while Dada lay on the ground.
No one saw Dada turn back or appear to point anything in the direction of the officer.
Video footage of the shooting’s aftermath recorded by witnesses show a Trenton cop straddle a gun recovered a few feet from Dada. The cop disarmed the gun and placed it in a side pocket of his cargo pants.
Rich Rivera, a former cop turned police accountability expert who reviewed the footage obtained by this newspaper, said the cop responded appropriately by pocketing the gun, but “it would have been good if he threw a dime or nickel on the spot.”
Witnesses questioned why the cop shot Dada while he was on the ground, but Rivera said, “Even if he’s shot in the back, it could be justified. If an individual posed a risk running into a crowd, they could. I do see a lot of hesitation initially.”
While Gov. Phil Murphy and Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri have credited the police response to the shooting with saving lives, Rivera still questioned some of the cops’ actions on the tape, including a delay in getting Dada medical attention.
Witnesses wondered whether more could have been done to help Dada, who is reportedly still in bad shape. A woman said she spoke to relatives who relayed he had been shot at least five times.
Witness video shows it took around six and a half minutes before paramedics arrived with a stretcher to tend to the handcuffed Dada. His clothes were soaked in blood.
“It’s disturbing that no one tried to render medical assistance immediately,” Rivera said. “They should have done something other than stand around and do nothing.”
Rivera was also critical of Ramos, who struggled to handcuff another man he tackled to the ground. The cop yelled at the man he would “f—k you up” if he didn’t put his hands behind his back.
“That goes to the officer’s mindset,” the cop expert said. “He’s absolutely got adrenaline going and his sympathetic nervous system is firing. That doesn’t justify threatening someone that he’s going to ‘f—k him up’.”
Officials are still doing ballistics and reconstructing the shootout to determine how the gunfire unfolded, though Gurley seemed certain she was struck by officers as she tried to get back up to run.
“I still have a little bit of fragment in it,” Gurley said. “I was in a state of shock.”