Wazn Miller police report: Cory Booker rendered aid to victim

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger 

NEWARK — Newark Mayor Cory Booker's administration has released records surrounding the 2004 shooting death of Wazn Miller, a Newark teen whose death the mayor would later recall in speeches.

The ghoulish details of the nine-year-old homicide have emerged anew in a contentious battle between Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg in the U.S. Senate.

This week, National Review Online sued Booker for the records after they were denied access following an Aug. 22 request. City officials said the conservative-leaning website received the records Thursday afternoon.

The reports, as well as statements from police officers, indicate that Booker's recollection was largely accurate, though the report indicated some inconsistencies with Booker's retelling.

The initial report indicated that Miller,18, had been shot and was bleeding excessively. Emergency Medical Technicians attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful, the report states.

A follow-up report details Booker's involvement.

"After hearing gunshots he responded to the victim and rendered aid and assisted in securing the scene until officers arrived," the report said.

The report states that another woman held Miller as ambulances arrived, according to witnesses.

“It is not uncommon for more than one person to assist a victim before emergency responders arrive," Newark Police Sgt. Vincent Vitiello said in a statement. He was one of the investigating officers in the 2004 shooting.

"Information I received from people at the scene indicated that Cory Booker had assisted and rendered aid to the victim prior to the arrival of emergency services," Vitiello added.

In 2010 Booker recalled the incident in a speech to the American Constitution Society.

"I see his shirt filling up with deep red blood," Booker said of Miller, adding that when EMTs arrived, they ripped open Miller's shirt and he saw "three bullet (holes) in his chest and one in his side."

The medical examiner later reported that Miller received only one entry wound to his chest and one to his finger.

Essex County Chief of Detectives Anthony Ambrose was the city police director at the time and responded to the shooting. He said Booker was visibly shaken from the incident.

"He had blood all over his hand and on his arm," Ambrose said in a statement. "The people at the scene said he rendered aid to the victim, and I recall him staying by the victim's side until he was transported to the hospital. Unfortunately, the individual did not survive."

National Review requested the police records after raising questions about another theme in Booker's past speeches: the character of T-Bone.

The Star-Ledger attempted to find T-bone in 2007 to no avail. Newark professor and renowned historian Clement Price said that Booker confessed to him T-Bone was an "invention."

Booker maintains that the character is real, but admitted he was a composite of people the mayor met while he was living in the dilapidated, and now demolished, Brick Towers in Newark's Central Ward.

Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis excoriated National Review in a statement.

"It’s clear from the police report, as well as the statements of police officers who were on the scene, that the mayor’s description of the incident is accurate," he said. "Attempts to diminish his actions during this tragedy are sad and misguided. This is partisan, Swiftboat journalism at its worst."

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