After more than six months, Jersey City Police Officer Kenneth Bowes has been identified as the officer involved in the shooting death of Lavon King.
By Michael Shurin/Hudson County View
On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, at approximately 4:30 p.m., two Jersey City police officers from the Emergency Services Unit observed and pursued Lavon King – one on foot, one in a police vehicle – through backyards on Ege Ave., according to a June 25, 2014 press release from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
King was being pursued for five open cases in Hudson County Superior Court for drugs and theft, as well as a pending violation of probation, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor’s office claims that during the pursuit, King entered an unlocked shed, and one male officer, now identified as Jersey City Police Officer Kenneth Bowes, followed him in with his firearm drawn.
King – who was unarmed – struggled with Bowes in an attempt to disarm him of his weapon, the prosecutor’s office said, causing the officer to fire one round from his service weapon, fatally wounding King – who would be pronounced dead at 8:54 p.m.
According to the Medical Examiner, the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the torso and the manner of death was homicide. The prosecutor’s office added that a determination has not been made as to whether this constitutes criminal homicide since the investigation is ongoing.
Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Gene Rubino said the investigation is still pending in the Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs Unit and has not been concluded. My priority is to “conduct an independent, thorough and careful investigation, which takes time,” he told Hudson County View.
According to a story in the Jersey Journal, a woman named Yvette said King was lying just outside the door of the shed after the gunshots:
“It happened really quickly,” said Yvette. “I heard two gunshots, they sounded like firecrackers. Then I heard a man say, ‘Why did you shoot me?’”
Yvette then looked out her window and says she heard the police respond, “You shouldn’t have been wrestling with us.”
Yvette says the police then picked up the man and moved him a few feet into the courtyard area next to the house. She says they waited with the bleeding man until an ambulance arrived 5 minutes later.
At King’s funeral, a relative disputed the prosecutor’s account of what had occurred, saying, “I know [Lavon King] didn’t go into that shed.”
Carmine Disbrow, President of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association, in a statement to Hudson County View said “Officer Bowes is a well respected member of the Jersey City Police Department, his integrity and commitment to making Jersey City better is unquestionable.”
“The JCPOBA stands fully behind Officer Bowes and is confident that the final outcome of this investigation will show what we have known all along, that he acted in accordance with his training as a law enforcement professional.”
According to NJ.com, Patrol Officer Kenneth Bowes, of the Jersey City Police Department, 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 Police Officer Kenneth 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.
Bowes, who according to public records is a military veteran, has been a police officer for about a decade.
Jersey City Public Safety Spokeswoman Carly Baldwin didn’t respond to inquires by Hudson County View regarding Bowes’ employment status with the Jersey City Police Department.