Tue | Jan 26, 2021

'Maurice's death like a dream we're praying to wake up from'

Published:Monday | July 6, 2020 | 12:00 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
A mourner looks at a programme pictorial of Maurice Gordon Jr at a thanksgiving service at Sydenham Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spanish Town on Sunday.
Talsia Reid, cousin of Maurice Gordon Jr, is overcome with grief as she reads the eulogy at the service of thanksgiving at Sydenham Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spanish Town on Sunday. She is consoled by family friend Kareem Boothe. Gordon was shot dead by a New Jersey state trooper on May 23.
Congregants observe COVID-19 social-distancing protocols at the thanksgiving service for Maurice Gordon Jr at the Sydenham Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spanish Town on Sunday.

Family members of Maurice Gordon Jr – the Jamaican man whose death represented a George Floyd-like cause célèbre against police brutality – restated their outrage over his May 23 killing at a thanksgiving service in Spanish Town on Sunday but said they are seeking healing amid the heartache.

Gordon, who was shot six times by a New Jersey state trooper after he was pulled over for speeding, was praised as a gentle, mild-natured, and determined man with a bright future. He was 28.

The thanksgiving service, held at Sydenham Seventh-day Adventist Church, was overshadowed by open displays of grief and expressions of personal loss, with moving tributes recounting the virtues of the Jonathan Grant High and EXED Community College alumnus.

"Maurice's death is like a dream we are still praying to wake up from," said cousin Talsia Reid, who broke down while eulogising Gordon, a lover of science and cartoons.

"We are finding it very hard to come to terms with the events that led to his death. At first, I harboured so much hate for the person who took his life, but I got over it," Reid said, adding that she had last seen him eight years ago.

Gordon, who migrated to the United States in 2012 to join his father, who was unable to attend the thanksgiving service because of COVID-19 restrictions, was planning to return next year – the first time since leaving his homeland.

At the time of his death, he was a chemistry major at Duchess Community College and lived in Poughkeepsie, upstate New York. He worked with Uber Eats.

Gordon's aunt, Sophia Barrett, who spoke on behalf of Gordon's mother, who did not attend because of COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom, where she currently resides, was devastated.

"I saw him in 2017 and had plans to see him again soon. I am so heartbroken right now," she told the scattered congregation, which sought to adhere to social-distancing regulations.

"I know the situation could have been handled better, because he was not armed, so therefore, he posed no danger to the officers," Barrett said.

Meanwhile, officiating pastor Lloyd Campbell described Gordon as a man who meant well for his family but who was cruelly snatched by death.

"Death will come to us all if Jesus does not come before. God understands your pain, your sorrows, and worries," he said to the hurting family members.