Last updated: 8 months ago
Jay Cook fell from an overpass and was run over by a car while running from police.
On August 14, 2007, 25-year-old Jay Cook left his apartment on North Fulton Avenue to get a money order. He was going to pay his rent. He could have walked the few blocks, but he was skittish – just a week earlier, he was robbed at gunpoint in this same alley. The robbers fired a gun. The bullet went through the bedroom window of Cook's 18-month-old daughter.
Jay was getting into his car, with a wad of cash when he saw two people in the alley. Jay took off. But the figures he saw weren't robbers, they were police. Accounts differ about whether or not they were in plain clothes or uniform. And Jay had had some brushes with the law in the past.
Later, police reported that Cook was holding his arm "tightly against his body" which to them, signaled that he was concealing a gun. After weaving through streets and alleys, Cook reached an overpass with a chain link fence. He squeezed through a narrow opening and clung to the fence. 70 feet below him was Route 40, which runs through West Baltimore.
Jay's fiance said the only thing she was told was that Jay "fit the description of a drug dealer that robbed somebody." Jay's father, John Gideon Cook III, says he and his wife went to the police station, but "couldn't even get an incident report. They kept on stalling me [saying] 'Well, we're still working on it. We haven't completed it yet.'"
Officer Hayward Bradley, an African American, testified that he heard the radio dispatch and arrived to see Jay hanging from the ledge of the overpass. He said he tried to rescue Jay.
"I cut my shirt, my pants, getting over the fence. I got over and saw him," Bradley said. "His face was looking up at me. I said 'Hold on, man, I'm coming for you. Just hold on. I reached out to grab him...he fell."
Bradley said that he watched Jay fall. He said he saw the car that ran over him. Bradley wiped away tears in his testimony. He said he was upset after witnessing Jay's death. He described what another officer said to him.
He said 'you need to calm down. I don't know why you worry. It's just one less drug dealer we got to worry, one less piece of shit.'
That's not all the officer said. The Cook family's attorney asked Bradley about an earlier statement he’d made, “Did an officer say "It’s just one less nigger we have to deal with?" Bradley testified that an officer did say that as well.