Soaries: Stop The ‘Leaks,’ No Need Yet For Demonstrations In Grant Death

Diahlo Grant Memorial - 2

Several of Diahlo Grant’s friends recently at the memorial site on Somerset Street.

Detectives from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office have interviewed “numerous people” in their investigation of the April 9 shootout in New Brunswick between a township resident and police that left the man dead.

That was one of the bits of information revealed by the Rev. DeForest Soaries, head pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens, during a telephonic press conference April 15. Soaries, who is out of state, called the press conference to provide an update of the investigation into the death of Diahlo Grant.

Soaries said he also told Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey that “it would be great” if Carey’s office could complete the investigation by April 25, the date of Grant’s funeral.

“I didn’t urge him to rush it,” he said.

Diahlo Grant early in the morning of April 9 allegedly led two township police officers on a short chase from the area of Somerset and Home streets, through a ravine and into New Brunswick. The officers had recognized Grant as being wanted on warrants out of Somerset and Middlesex counties, and he ran when they confronted him, according to reports.

The officers reportedly cornered Grant near a chain-link fence on a New Brunswick property when he allegedly fired a shot from a revolver, missing the officers. One officer reportedly returned fire, killing Grant.

The gun Grant used and a spent round from that gun were reportedly retrieved by police.

“The prosecutor assured me that they are reaching out and searching for people who may have information,” Soaries said during the press conference conference.

Soaries said that his office also received calls from two people who said they knew others who either heard or saw something relevant to the case. He said he agreed to talk to them, but they did not show up for the meeting.

Soaries said he called the press conference for three reasons: To update reporters on the date of Grant’s funeral – 11 a.m. April 25 at his church – to express his “disappointment” with some of the information about the case that has been reported in the press, and to talk about his discussions with Carey and Franklin Police Chief Lawrence Roberts.

Soaries said he told Carey and Roberts of his concern about law enforcement personnel “leaking” details of the investigation to the press.

Soaries said that in cases such as Grant’s, when negative information comes out about a person – such as Grant’s prior criminal record –it’s perceived as law enforcement trying to sully the person’s reputation “such that it causes the public to question whether sort not the person is worthy of any consideration.”

“I did not and will not accuse the chief or prosecutor in participating in this, but I urged them to help their rank-and-file understand” that the more information that is released that “besmirches” Grant’s reputation, “even if it is true” the more the community will feel the need to respond.

“We have anonymous tipsters giving media information that is derogatory on the deceased,” he said. “The more it happens, the more likely it is that communities in the area will feel the need to respond because the young man can’t respond.”

Soaries said he will be meeting with representatives of the Black Lives Matter organization next week to talk to them about “what,  if anything, would be helpful” in the way of protests or demonstrations.

He said the organization has met with Grant’s family and is “respecting the wishes of the family to withhold any demonstration or protest.”

“I want to share with them my perspective on the role of public demonstration,” he said. “They want to be strategic and not be loud, and I want to help them with that.”

At this point, Soaries said, “there has not been, at least from my office, a perceived need to have any protest at all.”

“In my view, today, there is not and has not been a need for protest,” he said. “There is no protest planned. I’m hoping the community will continue to have the kind of confidence it has had which has resulted in a very calm response to this incident.”

Soaries said that although Grant’s family are not members of his church, he agreed to let them have the funeral there because their regular church would not be able to hold the amount of people expected.

Soaries said he will be delivering the eulogy.


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