Newark to provide records after National Review sues Booker

September 11, 2013
Newark Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker speaks to the media after casting his ballot during the Senate primary election in Newark, New Jersey, August 13, 2013. Booker seemed poised for victory on Tuesday as New Jersey voters head to the polls to select party nominees in the race to fill the state's empty U.S. Senate seat. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)
Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Updated at 10:03 p.m.

The National Review announced Wednesday that it is suing Newark Mayor and New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker (D) for records related to the murder of a teenager whom Booker said died in his arms after being shot.

Booker's mayoral spokesman James Allen said late Wednesday that police had found the records and would provide them to the National Review on Thursday.

The conservative publication previously cast doubt on the existence of a drug-dealer named "T-Bone" whom Booker claimed to have befriended. It has also been digging into Booker's claims that he held Wazn Miller in his arms as the teenager died of a gunshot wound in 2004.

Editor Rich Lowry said the publication had been "stonewalled" in its search for public records on the matter. It sued the City of Newark and the Newark Police Department.

"It should be easy to get more information about the Miller case. New Jersey is an open-records state," Lowry wrote Wednesday afternoon. "Yet for weeks now, we have been stonewalled and given the run-around by everyone we’ve asked for help in obtaining the relevant police records."

Lowry continued: "We’ve asked nicely, we’ve asked firmly, we’ve asked in every way imaginable, but gotten nowhere. It is much easier to learn about the most sensitive aspects of top-secret national-security programs than it is to get Newark police records related to that day."

Allen, Booker's mayoral spokesman, said in a written statement:

"The request in question was filed with Office of the City Clerk, the custodian of records that operates independently of the Office of the Mayor. Because no electronic police records exist for this time period and the Clerk’s search of microfilm records did not produce any results, the Clerk directed the Police Department to perform a manual search of hard copy archives. The Clerk notified the National Review that they anticipated a response on or before September 13th and did not receive an objection. Officials at the Police Department searched extensively and located hard copies of the incident report. The Clerk has indicated that the National Review will receive the records on Thursday, prior to the deadline.”

Allen also provided documentation to Post Politics showing that Newark police searched the microfilm on Aug. 29, came up with nothing and then asked for an extension on Aug. 30. The previous deadline was Monday; the city clerk asked for an extension until Friday.

Booker campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis said the National Review is playing politics.

“This is nothing more than a partisan stunt," Griffis told Post Politics.

In a follow-up post in response to Allen's announcement, Lowry wrote that he'll reserve judgment on what city officials provide Thursday.

"We’ll see what they produce," Lowry said.

Here's more on the Miller story, from a report in The Washington Post last year by our colleague Nikita Stewart:

The latest news of his heroism took me back to the day I interviewed him about his chance decision to take a walk with his father one evening near where had parked and lived in a camper to draw attention to crime there. They heard shots ring out in the city’s Central ward.

 

Booker ran to the scene, finding Wazn Miller, a teenager whose parents had died of AIDS. Wazn was being raised by an older brother who was trying to keep him off the city’s streets.

 

This is what I wrote in a story published in The Star-Ledger on April 21, 2004:

 

“Booker said he cradled Wazn and applied pressure to the wound to his stomach to stop the bleeding. He also kept checking the young man’s pulse.

 

‘The first time, I felt a weak pulse. The second time, I felt really strange sensations. Then there was no pulse at all,’ Booker said.

 

Booker said he tried to talk to Wazn until the ambulance arrived.

 

‘I said, ‘Hold tight. Stay with me. You’re going to be okay,’ Booker recalled.”

Allen also provided the following comment from former Newark police director and current Essex County Chief of Detectives Anthony Ambrose, who supports Booker's version of events:

"When I arrived, I found first responders as well as Cory Booker. I remember that Cory was wearing jogging pants and a sweatshirt, and that he had blood all over his hand and on his arm. 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."

Booker is heavily favored to win the Oct. 16 special election for the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). The most recent poll shows Booker leading Republican Steve Lonegan by 35 points.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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