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Unarmed New Jersey Man Bumps Into Plainclothes Officer During Chaotic Scene, He’s Fatally Shot Seconds Later. Victim’s Family Files Lawsuit In Quest for Answers.

“We’re very frustrated at this point,” said Madinah Person, the sister of Carl Dorsey, 39, an unarmed New Jersey Black man killed by police on New Year’s Day in 2021. The family filed an excessive force lawsuit on Aug. 31 against the police and city of Newark for the deadly shooting.

Just minutes into the new year on Jan. 1, 2021, reports of gunshots caught the attention of Newark Police officers who were near the intersection of 11th Street and Woodland Avenue. One of the responding officers was Rod Simpkins who was dressed in plain clothes at the time.

“So arriving there, they didn’t know of any particular person was doing any particular thing, they just knew apparently there was a report of gunshots,” said Robert L. Tarver Jr., a Newark attorney representing Dorsey’s family.

As the officers pulled up to the scene in an unmarked minivan, a nearby surveillance video was capturing the deadly encounter between Simpkins and Dorsey. The video shows the van pulling into frame and Simpkins jumping out of the passenger side with his 9mm service weapon drawn, meanwhile Dorsey is seen running toward the van, leading to a collision between Dorsey and Simpkins.

After the collision, both men stumbled back onto their feet and that is when Simpkins fired a gunshot hitting Dorsey, who died of the wound a short time later at a local hospital.

“You see a van pull up, seeing people with no identification they’re police, so he obviously doesn’t know what’s going on,” Tarver said. “He’s not holding anything in his hand, no weapon, nothing that can be construed as a weapon, he runs into him and then moves off to the right, as he moves off to the right, you can see Officer Simpkins take his handgun, pulled out and shoots him in cold blood,” Tarver continued.

“There was no time for him to deescalate this situation in the matter of seconds he hopped out of this van and took my brother’s life,” Person said of her brother’s final moments.

Since the shooting, the family says they’ve received no answers from the police or attorney general’s office investigating the shooting.

“To this day, still nothing, not from the attorney general’s office, not from a police officer, not from anyone involved in this case,” said Person.

“We have no accountability here, and that’s what we’ve been asking for and that’s why we ended up filing the suit as we did,” said Tarver.

Dorsey’s family hope their federal lawsuit will help bring the 21-month long investigation to a conclusion and some semblance of accountability.

“We’re alleging that this officer, Officer Simpkins, violated Carl’s civil rights, took his life and used what we call excessive force,” Tarver said.

Atlanta Black Star requested a comment on the status of the investigation surrounding Dorsey’s death, and a spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office confirmed the case is still under investigation and that he could not provide any additional information at this time.

In New Jersey, a 2019 directive from the Attorney General’s Office outlines procedures governing investigations of the use of force by police against civilians to ensure they are done fully, fairly and without bias, according to Dan Prochilo, the public information officer for the N.J. Attorney General’s Office.

“If there’s ever been a case in my 36 years of practice where we see they’ve acted aggressively wrong, egregiously wrong and improperly, this is that case,” said Tarver.

Meanwhile as the family pursues legal remedies to find closure for the loss of Dorsey, his sister says the 39-year-old father of four is greatly missed by his loved ones.

“We want justice for Carl, in the sense that, we want this officer to be held accountable for his actions, we in a perfect world would definitely like to see this officer behind bars,” Person said.

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