Defendant's lawyers claim cop at fault in murder case

A lawyer for Andre Higgs, who is accused of killing Latrena May, implied that the responding cop escalated the situation that led to her client being charged in May’s death

By PoliceOne Staff

NEWARK, N.J. — Defense lawyers for a man who allegedly killed his daughter’s mother in a 2015 shooting implied that the responding officer’s actions escalated the situation that ended in the death.

Det. Kemon Lee said he approached the house of Latrena May, 27, when she called out for an officer on May 1, 2015, reported. May was standing with the defendant, Andre Higgs, in front of the house. The officer exited his patrol vehicle with his gun out of the holster because he felt the need to “establish and maintain control in a potentially dangerous situation.”

Lee told May to come down the steps toward him, but before she could Higgs, 45, pulled out a gun and shot her, the publication reported. Lee then shot Higgs.

Their 4-year-old daughter was inside the home at the time and was unharmed. Lee was found justified in the shooting by the state Attorney General’s office.

Defense Attorney Joseph P. Rem Jr. questioned why the officer felt it was necessary to approach the couple with his gun out.

The cross-examining of Lee about why he drew his service weapon and why he shot Higgs drew many objections from the prosecution.

The assistant prosecutor told Judge Ronald D. Wigler after court was dismissed Wednesday that he took issue with the defense’s line of questioning, saying it suggested lawyers were arguing self-defense. The judge had not previously authorized that argument, according to the publication. The defense lawyers argued they were challenging the narrative that Higgs purposefully shot May in front of a police officer. 

Wigler determined that the defense can resume cross-examination of Lee when court resumes Tuesday morning, but they cannot ask Lee about previous officer-involved shootings he’s been involved in.


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