While much is known about the criminal record of Lavon King, the Jersey City Police Officer who fatally shot him – Kenneth Bowes - was involved in at least twenty instances where a Use of Force report was filed.
Following the shooting death of Lavon King, the public was made aware of his criminal record – which included five open cases for drugs and theft, as well as a pending violation of prohibition.
According to information provided to Hudson County View, it appears the officer who fatally shot him – Kenneth Bowes – was involved in at least twenty instances where a Use of Force report was filed.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General Use of Force Policy set in 2000, a Use of Force (UoF) report must be produced:
In all instances when physical, mechanical or deadly force is used, each officer who has employed such force shall complete
1. Any reports made necessary by the nature of the underlying incident; and
2. Use of Force Report (Attachment A or agency required format)
For the year 2010, Bowes had 4 UoF reports – all involving black men (ages 17, 20, 25, and 37). Only the 17-year-old had a weapon, and the report indicates the subject was part of a crime in progress with shots fired.
In 2011, Bowes had 6 UoF reports – 5 were black men (ages 23, 25, 25, 26, and 29) and 1 was a Hispanic male (age 31), none had weapons.
Then in 2012, Bowes only had 1 UoF report – an incident with a 20-year-old white female who did not have a weapon, which occurred in late February of that year.
It should be noted that the last name of the woman is a Hispanic surname, and she is the only woman listed in any of Bowes UoF reports.
For the year 2013, Bowes had 8 UoF reports – all involving black men (ages 15, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29, 49, and 54). Two had weapons – the 28-year-old attempted suicide with a handgun and it was not clear what weapon the 26-year-old had – according to the reports.
Finally in 2014, the only UoF report Hudson County View obtained of Bowes was in regards to Lavon King – who was identified as having a weapon, according to the report.
In his June 25, 2014 press release, Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino did not mention that King had a weapon.
An email seeking comment from Rubino regarding if King possessed a weapon not mentioned in the press release, or if it was considered that he had a weapon because he allegedly struggled with Bowes for his weapon, was not returned.
King’s death remains an ongoing investigation in the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs Unit.
As a reference point to interpret Bowes’ UoF reports, extensive data provided to Hudson County View shows that 182 Jersey City Police Officers filed 329 UoF reports in the year 2011.
Below is a table of the number of UoF reports filed, and how many officers filed that number of reports (with the highest number of UoF reports being 8):
UoF Reports – Number of Officers
1 – 110
2 – 39
3 – 14
4 – 6
5 – 7
6 – 3
7 – 2
8 – 1
All of Bowes’ UoF reports prior to the King incident appear to indicate that he was working in the South District of Jersey City, but Hudson County View was unable to verify. Bowes is identified as an Emergency Services Unit officer in the King report and Hudson County Prosecutor’s press release.
An email seeking comment on Bowes’ employment status with the Jersey City Police Department was not returned by city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.
In an interview with Hudson County View, Lavon King’s brother, Lydel King, said that it would bring “no pleasure to me or my family if [Bowes] gets fired or goes to jail,” and that he’s simply interested in the truth.
As previously noted by Hudson County View, according to NJ.com, Bowes received an award for making 30 DWI busts in 2013 – tied for the most in Hudson County – at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving event two weeks prior to the fatal encounter with King.
A 2012 story in the Jersey Journal mentioned Bowes, among other police officers and firefighters, for their heroic effort in saving three people – including a 3-year-old boy – from a fire three days after Hurricane Sandy.
During an interview with Hudson County View, Police Officer Carmine Disbrow – President of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association – said cases like Lavon King highlight the need for officers to be equipped with non-lethal weapons.
Disbrow said pepper spray and stun guns were non-lethal weapons that police officers should be equipped with.